May 14, 2014 9.57 am This story is over 88 months old

Crisis planning: What’s the worst that could happen?

Planning ahead: Lava’s Rob Tomkinson explains what you should do if the worst should happen to your business.

If Sunday’s Lincoln Grand Prix had been just one lap shorter, a young rider named Tom Moses would have taken victory with a lead of more than 30 seconds. Reality though, was to prove somewhat different.

As he reached the start of the Michaelgate climb for the last time, he was just nine seconds ahead, and by the time he crossed the line up by the Cathedral he’d dropped back to fourth place, 35 seconds behind winner Yanto Barker.

Now, to take nothing away from the fantastic achievement of a top-five finish on one of the cycling calendar’s toughest circuits, the story of his final lap is a cautionary tale for businesses about the dangers of not having a ‘Plan B’ in place for when the good times go bad.

If the good times are rolling in business, preparing for the worst might be the last thing on your mind. Spending time and money planning for circumstances you’d do anything to avoid and that, with any luck, will never materialise, can quickly fall down the to-do list when day-to-day priorities take hold.

However, should that worst case scenario come to pass, the quality of a business’ crisis communications, or lack of, can make or break its reputation in hours. When the proverbial hits the fan for whatever reason, and you reach for the crisis plan, you’ll thank yourself for having the foresight to get it ready well in advance.

Be prepared

Effective crisis planning comes into its own during times of high stress and pressure, precisely because it was put together in the complete opposite of circumstances – in a calm, considered manner when time is a luxury you do have.

Say something

Keeping the media and your customers informed is by far the most important thing you can do should a crisis hit. Pre-prepared press statements covering a variety of possible scenarios can give you vital time to catch up when events are fast-moving.

‘No comment’ not an option

Having a nominated spokesperson ready, fully briefed and trained in effective media communications allows your business to respond positively to whatever situation may arise – because in a crisis, ‘no comment’ is simply no longer an option.

Keep the ball rolling

Setting a series of regular press updates and sticking to those times is vital, even when there is no new information to give. Doing this, and giving out as much information as you are able to legally, being transparent and honest in all press statements will help to keep public opinion on your side.

Revisit your plans regularly

Preparing for these circumstances in advance and keeping your plans updated regularly will give you the clarity you need to remember these important actions when you need them the most.

Crisis communications isn’t about trying to prevent bad things from happening. How your business responds during a crisis will tell your customers more about you than almost anything else, for better or worse. Understand that and you’ll see why good crisis comms really is money well spent.

So if you do just one thing on the back of this article, ask yourself the question: What’s the worst that could happen?

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Rob Tomkinson is founder of Carrington Communications, the digital PR agency based in Lincolnshire. He helps companies reach their customers and grow their business through effective PR and marketing. He writes about digital PR strategy, reputation management and other interesting marketing stories that catch his eye.