Why Crisis Preparedness Planning Should Be An Essential Practice

A company of any industry must understand that they are always risk from potential attacks. Be it from the media, the government or even the customers, the environment a company survives in is extremely risky. It hence becomes crucial for all companies to come up with a crisis communication plan before hand.

There are only a few times when a potential threat can be predicted before it affects the company. In most cases, the company only becomes aware of the problem once the crisis has already struck. For a company to act swiftly and effectively to reduce damage, it is important for a crisis communication plan to already be in place. Here are a few steps which all crisis communication services advice a company to begin with:

Identify Risks

The first thing that any company must do is identify the risks at hand. This involves any situation which can potentially affect the company in a negative manner. No plan can be made without identifying the risks at hand. It is only after doing so that a detailed plan can be formulated which allows the company to address the risk and not lose profits.

Decide A Planning Team

Once all the risks have been identified, it is time for the company to create their own planning team. For a plan to be successful the company must create a team with both their own experienced employees as well as hiring crisis communication support & services. The reason why both are required is the fact that the employees have detailed understandings of the inner working of the companies while the consultants have experience in terms of crisis communication. Together they will be able to create an effective plan.

Create A Plan

Working together the plan that is created for the company should focus on protecting their core assets. When creating a crisis communication plan, the team must also create a guideline for how the employees of the company must interact with external stakeholders. One wrong word can severely harm the company and hence all employees must be briefed on how they should interact. Heads of the company should also be trained as official spokesman who will be the ones interacting with the media directly.

Prepare And Train Individuals

One of the core elements of a plan devised by crisis communication services and the employees are spokesman. Every company must have a few official senior employees of the company trained specifically on how to talk to the press. From vocals to body language they must be trained to help the company survive the crisis.

Earthquake Preparedness Month Inspires Public Service Campaign for Business Continuation

Earthquake Is Overdue

Here in the earthquake country of Southern California, the “big one” is now more than 20 years overdue.

And the best estimates indicate that if it hit today, 25-50% of small businesses would not survive.

The impact of the failure of a small business – or any business, for that matter – is felt widely. Even if no people are harmed physically, when disaster hits and a business fails,

  • Clients lose their source of products or services.
  • Suppliers and professional advisors lose a customer.
  • Employees are suddenly without any income.

The owner, of course, loses the asset, perhaps his reputation, and the future that the business promised.

Lack of Planning Dooms Businesses

Statistics on surviving a disaster are only estimates, because some businesses hang on for weeks or months after the emergency before they go under.

But research indicates that two factors play a significant role in determining the chances of survival.

  1. Lack of a suitable plan. A good plan anticipates potential threats, identifies essential functions, and lets employees know what is expected of them in the case of business interruption. A Gartner poll (2009) reported that only 35 % of small businesses had a comprehensive plan in place. Moreover, many plans overlook the key element of communications DURING and AFTER the disaster, when phone lines and electricity are out.
  2. Lack of practicing the plan. A thick plan on the shelf serves no purpose and may even give people a false sense of security. People need to know what has to be done to keep the business alive – and they need to know they can actually do it. A Harris poll of over 2000 working adults found that three-quarters of them said that their company had not conducted any emergency drills.

In the face of doubt or ambiguity, the first instinct of employees will be to abandon the workplace to get home to their families — leaving the business to its fate.

Missing Pieces Campaign

What is the solution? One way to improve the odds is to have business leaders take the initiative in sharing business continuation planning information with their own customers and suppliers.

A “Missing Pieces” campaign focuses on shortcomings of Business Continuation Planning as mentioned above. Selected business are mailed a letter laying out the issue and offering a free package of materials that they can use for themselves and forward to business connections.

Basing the message on existing relationships adds urgency and credibility to the campaign – and gives everyone a better chance of ensuring that the company can stay alive following a disaster.

Preparedness Vs Resilience, Are They the Same Thing?

So there is a new buzz word out there, resilience. Often this word is used interchangeably with preparedness. But are they the same? Let’s first explore the definitions and differences between these two words.

So what is preparedness?

Preparedness is defined as a state of readiness, this as something we do in order to reach our goal – being prepared. So what have you had to prepare for in your life? In my business we tend to think of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, etc. But do we also prepare for other things? How about a wedding, vacation, or even a move to a new city? As you can see on all of these examples they are contained within the event. So what we have is a pre-event (normal life), the event, and then recovery from the event (return to normal life). So preparedness can be encapsulated into something that is done and then put away.

So what is Resilience?

Resilience can be defined as “The ability to adapt to changing conditions and withstand and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergencies”*. So let’s examine this a bit further, as this definition implies resilience becomes a state of being. By being able to adapt to changing conditions more easily that would lead to a more rapid recovery from these events. Resilience is something we become, it can never be contained or encapsulated. It is something that threads through all parts of our lives.

Preparedness vs. Resilience

As we have explored there is a difference in both the definition and outcome of both of these words; however each word had a place in our lives. There is always something we should prepare for in order to make the event easier. Resilience is how we handle any challenges or obstacles that happen when something goes wrong within the event we planned.

For example: I have planned for my fantastic car trip vacation to Disney World with my family. We have packed and are ready to go. About day 3 into this trip (after the fun begins to wane for the kids); my car breaks down, we are supposed to be meeting Mickey tomorrow and will not make it. Even though we prepared, the unexpected happened. How I handle this challenge and move to a more peaceful transition depends on my resilience. Can I find a way to keep the kids happy until we get there? Will this situation make this fantastic planned vacation into a nightmare? How stressed will this situation make me? And finally, when we get on our way, will I enjoy the rest of this new vacation? Each of these questions, points to my resilience in a very hostile environment. (Have you ever had not postpone meeting Mickey? I would not recommend it!)

Preparedness now becomes a part of resilience. I wouldn’t want to go through life not preparing for events, however I also wouldn’t want to rely just on my resilience to get me through my life. Both of these words play an active role in our lives but they are not the same, preparedness is something we do and resilience is something we are in any situation. In later articles I will explore more closely the concept of resilience as it applies to our human nature.

* Presidential Policy Directive-8