The universal truth in my business is that it’s not a matter of if but when a crisis will strike. Simply refer to all of 2020 as exhibit A. But unless you’re a lawyer or a crisis manager yourself, many leaders don’t necessarily know when is the right time to make that call to a crisis communications firm for outside help.
Unfortunately, for many organizations, that time is usually on the side of “too late.” Erroneous assumptions are made: We can handle this on our own. The problem will go away. This issue won’t harm our reputation.
Crisis communications planning should be an ongoing process for your business, with a plan of action ready to implement if the unthinkable happens. More often than not, though, organizations—like all humans—procrastinate and don’t get the planning and preparation done, and then they’re caught flatfooted when an incident occurs.
That’s where our crisis communications firm comes in.
When in crisis, organizations, executives and elected officials are frequently overtaken by events, and the narrative turns swiftly downward. That’s prime time for mistakes, which is the last thing your organization needs when your brand is most exposed and vulnerable to negative public perception.
My partner Dennis and I like to say that our job is part PR professional, part therapist. Going through a crisis incident can be traumatic for even the most tested professionals. Seeing footage of your organization flash across screens is startling. Total strangers teeing off on your brand on social media is, at best, unpleasant. An ambush reporter shoving a microphone in your face is almost like an out-of-body experience. Our job, as a crisis communications firm, is to help you and your team quickly get over the initial shock of going through that information gauntlet and move into action mode as fast as possible.
What that means is identifying and implementing impactful strategies to help our clients regain control. But we’re not just talking about message points and press releases that paper over the problem. Our strategies and recommendations include aggressive actions that demonstrate leadership that ultimately reframe the narrative and let our clients regain some command of the situation both operationally and optically.
Whether it’s setting up a war room to manage the flow of information, bringing in an outside investigator to root out a problem or forming a community relations group to neutralize a local controversy, CBL’s strategies are built on providing actionable steps an organization can take to first address the scrutiny and then move beyond the problem to begin the work of repairing the damage.
That’s the value of bringing in an outside crisis communications firm before it’s too late. We’ll help you quickly process the trauma of an unexpected event and get back to the work of defending and rebuilding your organization’s reputation.
This article was written by Executive Vice President Natalie Bauer Luce. Natalie is a seasoned communications and public affairs strategist with extensive experience at the intersection of government, law, politics and business.