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By Adrian Ryan and Brad Addison - CoFactor Managing Partners

Every organisation is vulnerable to a crisis.  In a digital age where a crisis can go viral in moments, a crisis can quickly tarnish your reputation and significantly impact your business, diminish employee morale or result in significant legal or regulatory action.  Not preparing risks incurring significantly more damage.

The types of crises that may impact your organisation are diverse

A crisis is a situation that has or could have a significant detrimental impact on safety, assets, business operations or reputation and requires immediate attention.

The types of crises that could impact your specific organisation are diverse.  They may be triggered by significant internal and/or external factors or escalation of smaller incidents.  Either way, being prepared is crucial.

Common crisis triggers or the types of incidents experienced by organisations include:

  • Operations failure (including operational breakdowns, competitive disruption, supply chain issues, and product failure)
  • Technology failure
  • Financial/liquidity
  • Cyber-crime
  • Natural disaster
  • Leadership transition
  • Ethical misconduct (including fraud or corporate malfeasance) 
  • Legal/Regulatory action or investigation

Recognising these diverse types of crisis triggers or incidents, let’s focus on the critical steps organisations should take prior to a crisis. After all, ignore at your organisation’s peril the old adage that ‘by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’.

Crisis preparedness and being crisis-ready

When CoFactor starts working with clients, we often find a big gap between how crisis-ready an organisation thinks it is versus how ready it actually is. This is also borne out in recent research by Deloitte.

Crisis preparedness is more than a compliance activity.  It provides critical competitive advantage and value to an organisation.  It should play a strategic role in your overall business priorities.

While crises begin as a negative/threat, comprehensive research by PWC and others has shown time and time again that companies who undertake specific crisis preparedness steps not only minimise the damage but - in some cases - emerge stronger than before the crisis.

Key steps to prepare your organisation for a potential crisis and get ‘crisis-ready’ 

  1. Sound risk management

    Understand, document and manage your company’s key risks. This is crucial to preventing and mitigating crises. And organisations that manage risk well tend not to face crises of their own making

  2. Crisis management plan

    Have a crisis management plan in place describing your crisis management arrangements

  3. Crisis management team

    Have a designated crisis management team comprising people who are carefully selected, trained and clear on their roles and responsibilities

  4. Draft select crisis management messages

    Prepare a suite of pre-approved, generic message templates that are suitable for your primary communication channels (e.g. website, social media)

  5. Training

    Train everyone who needs to be familiar with your crisis management plans. Training can be done through meetings and presentations, or bring in experts to talk with your employees about how to manage their role and responsibilities during a crisis and assist with tests/rehearsals. Training your spokespeople to perform in a high-pressure media environment is particularly important.

  6. Review and continuous improvement

    Review, test and improve your crisis management arrangements at least annually to stay current and relevant to your risk environment

  7. Monitoring

    Establish monitoring systems to allow intelligence gathering to aid crisis prevention.  For example, monitoring social media and news coverage relevant to your organisation. 

These are measures every organisation can take right now, to emerge strong and healthier from the inevitable future crisis. 

Interested to learn more?

CoFactor helps organisations prepare for and respond to issues and crises to stabilise key relationships and protect the company and its reputation. Get in touch for a Crisis-Ready Assessment on your organisation or to understand how it can improve its crisis readiness.