By: Hannah Mayer
During ICON 2021, I was particularly engaged in the session that covered how to plug the gaps commonly found in a company’s crisis communication plan. Dave Thompson led this discussion and covered the gaps that can easily be found in topics like overt ethics, team, partners, risk analysis, and initial action plan; All topics that should be covered in a company’s crisis plan.
Thompson touched on the fact that many companies have a crisis plan, but they’re at a loss when a crisis actually occurs. This is because they didn’t plan accordingly. Thompson shared how important it is to plan a crisis schedule. When a crisis is occurring, staff can’t just go home at 5 pm like every other work day. You must create a schedule that clearly outlines who will be there at what hours of the day. Crisis doesn’t care about convenience and you have to be prepared for the inconvenience.
Another gap discussed that stuck out to me was the threat analysis. Threat analysis is when companies identify all possible threats to their company and what their response will be for each particular threat. When listing possible threats, it’s important to evaluate the impact the threat has and the probability of it occurring. After doing this, crisis leaders are able to understand which threats deserve the most attention. Thompson also touched on how many staff members don’t want to identify controversial possible threats. They don’t want to talk about the possibility of mismanagement or sexual misconduct. By ignoring these possible threats, you are putting yourself in danger of not having the proper response if they do occur. As PR professionals, it’s our job to talk about the uncomfortable, even if it’s awkward.
Although Thompson discussed a multitude of crisis communication gaps, these were the most impactful to me. It was inspiring to hear how important our work will be when we graduate in the PR career. Thompson’s words were more than beneficial and I will carry them with me as I progress in my academic and professional career.
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