The best time to plan for a crisis is before it happens.
If you fail to coordinate your response efforts until you are in the middle of a crisis, your response is likely to be incomplete, inept, and ineffective. Your efforts to assess your vulnerabilities now will have a big payoff when your business finds itself struggling to survive a major crisis.
Crisis communications are initiatives that inform stakeholders (both inside and outside the business) for the purpose of enhancing your organization's ability to manage a crisis event. A crisis PR vulnerability assessment can be the catalyst for a crisis communications plan – and that's an important outcome because it provides several critical benefits for your company:
- Clear chain of command. Vulnerability assessments identify weaknesses in your crisis chain of command. A clear, well-structured chain of command is vital for your staff as well as outside stakeholders in a crisis.
- Proactive response features. A crisis communications plan can be a gift at the beginning of a crisis because it provides a roadmap for a proactive response. Significant damage can be done to your company's reputation if it looks like you aren't taking the crisis seriously.
- Risk management. Many PR crises have the potential to create legal risks for your company and your key leaders. Vulnerability assessments highlight legal threats and present opportunities to incorporate appropriate legal protections and/or remedies into your crisis response strategy.
- Regulatory responses. Certain kinds of PR disasters can trigger regulatory reporting requirements. If you wait until you're knee-deep in a crisis, it's doubtful that regulatory reporting will be at the top of your to-do list. But vulnerability assessments and crisis communications plans give you the time you need to prepare for crisis regulatory reporting.
- Security and containment. Most of all, vulnerability assessments give your company the ability to manage rumors, negative news, and the impact of a crisis event. If your vulnerability assessment leads to informed crisis communications responses, it's possible for your company to emerge with its reputation intact. Additionally, vulnerability assessments and crisis communication plans offer security for key leaders, company personnel, and other internal stakeholders. Crises are less intimidating for staff members when they know that the company has conducted advance preparations.