By Simona D’Agostino Reuter
No one likes crises, though we cannot deny that they happen. When a healthy organization’s CEO or CFO evaluate the cost of preparing a crisis communication plan, it is tempting to think and say: “it can’t happen to us”.
Every organization is vulnerable to crises. This is what we know by now. And for some reasons, they tend to happen when a company is less prepared…during the summer holidays or Christmas breaks for instance.
Unfortunately the recent tragic events occurred in Italy and related to the listed blue chip Atlantia are a clear example of it.
We would like to believe organizations worldwide are finally “getting it” about crisis preparedness, whether we’re talking about crisis communications, disaster response or business continuity. Certainly, client demand for advance preparation has increased dramatically in the past decade.
According to Jonathan Bernstein – Crisis PR Communications expert – “The days of burying your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away are gone. You can try, but your stakeholders will not be understanding or forgiving because they’ve watched what happened with Volkswagen, Chipotle, FIFA, Costa Crociere, Lance Armstrong”..
Experience demonstrates that organizational leadership often does not understand that in the absence of adequate internal and external communications:
There several definitions of a Crisis, this is the one I would use the most: “Crisis refers to a sequence of unwanted events at the workplace and outside which lead to disturbances and major unrest amongst the individuals or/and institutions”.
Crisis generally arises on a short notice and triggers a feeling of threat and fear in the employees.
We can say “It’s an approach to dealing with an event in a professional manner that addresses the critical needs of the time. The focus is on surviving the crisis in progress and easing the effects of the crisis as much as possible.”
We think a crisis can create three related threats: (1) public safety, (2) financial loss, and (3) reputation loss. And more recently, two distinct categories have been created, operational crises and reputational crises (Sohn & Lariscy, 2014), we believe a crisis can affect both but one of the two factors can dominate a crisis.
Investor Relations in periods of crises
In a moment of a crisis, Investor Relations Officers have to be firm and communicate effectively their company strategy, despite market conditions. Too easy to say! IRO’s must do their best to influence the process and control the messaging around how the market turbulence is or isn’t impacting their company, without forgetting that investors, in the meanwhile, will reach their own conclusions on how the market may impact. It is commonly agreed that planning both short and long term communications goals is especially important during times of crisis.
Here below are a few key questions to ponder when formulating a communication plan:
Bear in mind, all stakeholders, internal and external, are just as capable of misunderstanding or misinterpreting information about your organization as the media. It’s IROs along with Top Management responsibility to minimize the chance of that happening. Spokesperson training teaches to be prepared, to be ready to respond in a way that optimizes the response of all stakeholders.
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