Ten Ways of Reducing Your Crisis Vulnerability
No organisation is immune to crisis. But it’s wrong to assume crises are always random, unpredictable or simply “acts of God”. The truth is, there are things you can do to significantly reduce the possibility of your organisation suffering a crisis. And when you consider that a mis-handled crisis can have a major financial impact on a business, why wouldn’t you take the following steps to make your organisation less vulnerable?
Here are the ten ways of reducing you crisis vulnerability.
1. Conduct a reputational risk assessment
Conducting a regular – at least annual – reputational risk assessment not only reduces your chances of being blind-sided by a damaging incident, it also provides the stimulus for actions to reduce their likelihood and/or impact.
2. Conduct a reputational risk assessment – with a difference
A conventional risk assessment is an essential first step in risk reduction. Inviting your people to think the unthinkable by role playing tabloid journalists, disgruntled ex-employees, competitors or pressure groups, results in a changed perspective and a much more comprehensive set of risks to be managed.
3. Create the right culture
Prevention is always better than cure – and nowhere is this more true than in crisis management. So ensure you create a culture where your people are encouraged to identify and communicate potential problems. The reverse – a culture of fear and blame – is the perfect incubator for crises.
4. Focus on the front-line
A comprehensive crisis management plan and a well-trained senior team is essential in effective crisis management – but it is not enough. Unless the front-line – your receptionists, security guards, sales executives, engineers – know what to do and who to call in the event of an incident, the top team won’t get the chance to exercise the crisis plan until it’s too late.
5. Monitor the landscape
Be constantly vigilant for emerging issues and potential crises. Go beyond conventional media monitoring to understand what is being said about your organisation on-line. Chatrooms and blogs can serve as an early warning of gestating issues: effective action at this stage can prevent them from becoming full-blown crises.
6. Manage issues pro-actively
Identifying a potential issue is one thing: managing it effectively is quite another. Whilst heads down and fingers crossed is one strategy, it’s rarely as effective as a purposeful plan to take control. Actively managing issues gives you more control over your reputational destiny and often heads off a potential crisis.
7. Hold a crisis simulation
Crisis simulations are essential to test a crisis management plan, and building the skills and confidence of the crisis team. But that’s not all. The process also raises awareness of the potential for crisis, and highlights flaws in the current infrastructure. As a consequence, a post-simulation organisation is not only better equipped to deal with a crisis, but is also less likely to suffer one in the first place.
8. Review and learn
Let’s be honest: there’s no guarantee of a crisis-free existence for any organisation. But the experience of handling a live crisis is an opportunity to learn, review and enhance procedures to reduce the likelihood and impact of a future incident. Never simply breathe a corporate sigh of relief and get back to business as usual. The danger is that “business as usual” may have caused the crisis and without a proper review, another one may be lurking in the system.
9. Plan well to avoid self-inflicted crises
Self-inflicted crises – the botched site closure, the ill-conceived product launch, the child labour scandal – are often the worst crises of all. Why? Because they arise not out of an act of God, an accident, or the evil intent of a third party, but as a result of actions and decisions made by the organisation itself. And given this fact, it’s essential for the organisation to have a robust communication strategy to avoid an unnecessary crisis.
10. Resolve the incident before it becomes a crisis
Research from Oxford Metrica demonstrates that a well managed incident has a positive impact not just on how an organisation is regarded, but also how it is valued. So swift and effective action to manage an emerging situation not only reduces the number of crises that you will have to face, it can also do wonders for your share price!
In the current economic climate, no organisation can afford to gamble with its reputation. Acting on the steps outlined above mean that you will be able to sleep more peacefully at night knowing that your organisation is less vulnerable to a potentially catastrophic crisis.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Hemus is the founder of Insignia Communications - http://www.insigniacomms.com/ -a consultancy specialising in corporate reputation management and crisis communication. For regular insights into corporate reputation management, log on to Insignia’s blog, http://www.insigniatalks.com/.