Here’s a sobering fact. IR Magazine recently released a research report that found that 35 percent of companies had suffered some kind of crisis during the past five years. Granted, these are big, publicly traded companies. Still, the idea that really bad things happen to the other guy is clearly not true.
The research was part of a twice-a-year survey of investor relations executives at major companies. This year, 763 responded about their firm’s crisis experience and readiness.
The range of crisis issues was broad and almost any company or organization could find itself in the same kind of bind. This information should be a wake-up call about the importance of being prepared.
Big companies do tend to be prepared. About 69 percent have a formal crisis plan. Bigger companies tended to be better prepared. Another interesting fact is that those who were well prepared were actually less likely to have a crisis. My guess is that they were able to identify the problem more quickly and take quick steps to resolve it.
Crisis planning requires a commitment from the very top. Some companies rely entirely on internal resources to create a crisis plan, but most hire a consultant to help. Outside consultants can provide an arm’s length perspective that can be quite valuable. Plus, what they may lack in knowledge of the client they more than make up for in knowledge of how to prepare for and manage a crisis.
The research asked those who had been through a crisis to say what they learned from the experience. Here’s what turned up as the top 10 post-crisis lessons, with the most often cited on top:
TOP 10 LESSONS LEARNED
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
- Be fast
- Be transparent
- Be honest; don’t lie or mislead
- Be prepared
- Be consistent
- Be conservative
- Be clear in what you say and do
- Be visible
- Be coherent
The takeaways from the IR Magazine report should that a crisis really can happen to anyone and that those who plan for it are better prepared because they are likely to have already had the internal battles that are raised by the top 10 lessons. Take another look at those 10 lessons learned and ask yourself if there is clear direction, from the top of your organization to the bottom, on how each of the lessons would be worked into how you respond should a crisis happen to your company. If you do that, you’ll start to see how it is that companies who haven’t adequately planned get tripped up.
You can read the entire report by going to http://tinyurl.com/IR-Report.