It’s August. We’ve just completed the Dog Days of Summer and daylight hours are already decreasing. We’re still a good five weeks away from officially beginning fall, but some people are already counting down to Christmas while others are dreading the drop of the thermometer.
This is also a transition time of year. Families are either wrapping up vacations or trying to get in last-minute getaways with the kids. I still live by the academic calendar. My year moves from September to June and then I usually throw in July and August as afterthoughts. In most business worlds, the most common delineation of the year is the company’s fiscal year calendar (or the holiday break/shutdown). For most, however, the year is just a continual, ongoing trek toward the completion of the next project or presentation.
So, as daylight decreases and the projects continue to pile up, how do you keep your momentum?
It’s about balance. Balance is important to ensure you follow through on commitments both at work and at home to achieve your goals. Sometimes you need to set limits so your personal life doesn’t suffer when you’re working overtime to finish a project. Other times, you will need to prioritize your day to manage your tasks so you and your co-workers can go home at a reasonable hour.
It’s about taking time the time to plan and prioritize to achieve a balance. Not every day will require the same amount of preparation. However, if you can prioritize parts of your life, you can build successes on a habit. Then, it helps keep momentum going so you don’t have to work yourself to death. Then you can enjoy the Dog Days of Summer (or at least have the time to look up what it means).
When asked, most companies who do not have a complete and vetted crisis management communications plan reply they will be able to handle or respond to a crisis when it occurs.
Unfortunately, when an event does occur in a company without a set plan and educated key internal groups, it may result in a negative experience. Adverse results may include:
- diluted or unfocused messaging
- inability to respond/react in a timely manner
- lack of shared and relevant information and inability to deliver materials to internal and external audiences
- negative media coverage
- confusion by internal and external audiences and
- other crisis pressures triggered by consumer concerns, activist groups, and discussion in social media.
Develop your Crisis Communications Plan
The first step to a solid crisis communications plan is to assemble a crisis response and communications team. The team should conduct an audit to assess the company’s or association’s situations, including:
- documenting procedures and policies
- collecting information on the perception of the company (which may help identify resources for information)
- identifying locations and resources and
- identifying crisis scenario modules.
The crisis scenario module should include a myriad of potential situations that ultimately compose the bulk of your plan. Crisis scenarios may include a natural disaster event, a product safety issue, or even an activist protest. Each module is structured to define key messages, statements, resource materials, an information chain, and a spokesperson, but the specific situation will determine which and how each of those elements are used and when.
Going through a crisis is never a pleasant experience, but planning and developing a solid communications plan may produce beneficial results and potentially lessen an impact by mitigating on-going risk. Developing an effective crisis communication response plan is an important first step.