Recent studies suggest reputation can be worth more than 60 percent of a company’s market value, which makes us all the more proud of the crisis and reputation resilience work we do at M Booth. We counsel clients to adopt an always-ready state of preparedness, but it’s all too common for us to be brought in after a crisis wasn’t managed as well as it could have been. A common culprit: inferior plans and half-baked capabilities.
How do you know if your crisis plan might underperform? Here are some top signs.
- No plan at all. About half of the companies we work with tell us they don’t know if a plan exists or that it can’t be found, which is consistent with what we hear from industry colleagues and some PR-trade surveys. When we provide crisis support to organizations with no plan in place, these companies don’t do as well, even with our help.
- “We have a book of statements.” Just as prior performance doesn’t predict future results, a standby statement that worked well in the past may not fit well in tomorrow’s crisis. We do advocate maintaining a repository because it provides useful context to see how the company has responded in the past. However, this approach will fail in a major crisis because it lacks the organizational and strategic guidance that is necessary to bring a brand/organization on-point quickly and thoroughly in a crisis.
- Dense, hard-to-use plans. Passive language, jargon and a definitions page are strong indicators that a plan probably won’t actually be used in a crisis. Plans can sometimes also be bogged down with “completism” where every possible tactic, message variation, and fill-in-the-blank press releases add a ton of heft and little payoff, since the actual crisis rarely occurs the way you think it will during the preparation stage.
- One-size-fits-all. There are websites, apps, books and some consultants that hawk cost-effective templates to help with crisis/reputation management. But an off-the-shelf plan is going to yield off-the-shelf results. These templates are rarely scalable among small/medium/large crises. Different companies in the same industry may require polar-opposite customized tools to match differences in internal structures, market position, value propositions, and stakeholder perceptions. A good plan should fit within a larger risk management framework, and those often vary from company to company.
In today’s world, the stakes are simply too high to leave crisis preparedness unattended. The good news is that crisis preparedness plans are extremely cost-effective when compared to typical PR budgets, and so having a good, customized, easy-to-use, plan in place may be more attainable than you think.
Coming soon: Straight Talk, Part Two: It’s Not Your Crisis Plan, It’s Your Capability.
About M Booth’s Crisis Capability
Over the years, our team has provided crisis/reputation resilience services to more than 170 of the world’s best-known brands and organizations—including more than 35 on the current 2021 Fortune 500 list. If you want to know more, ping email@example.com.