In today's fast-paced and ever-changing world, business is news.
Mergers and acquisitions, cybersecurity issues, building projects, construction-related accidents and catastrophes often are the lead story on the front page of print media and the evening news, as well as trending on the internet.
It’s why public relations and crisis management planning are critical to your business, regardless of your industry.
Yet many organizations are totally unprepared or ill prepared to handle the public relations and crisis management aspects of these events.
This unpreparedness can lead to negative and undesirable results that could adversely affect your business, employees, industry and clients or customers.
Many businesses always have been and always will be in a highly visible position to the general public and the media.
For example, the building and construction industry is important to the economy and the overall health, safety and welfare of the public.
The media are very interested in the building and construction industry because of the potential high-interest stories it can generate that will have positive and/or negative effects.
CREDIBILITY AT STAKE
A crisis management plan, including public relations aspects, is essential to maintain a company’s credibility and positive image in the face of adversity.
Customers, employees, management, financial supporters, industry associates, the general public and the media must believe you are well organized and able to handle a crisis in a professional manner.
Crises do not afford the luxury of time to pause and thoroughly think through the specific problem. Therefore, there is a need to be prepared for every type of emergency most likely to occur.
ANTICIPATION IS KEY
Many crises in business, just as in our daily lives, often are foreseeable, can be managed and can provide unprecedented opportunities for positive public relations.
A majority of businesses are reluctant to prepare for adversity because they do not want to admit their organization could ever be guilty of poor performance or mistakes.
The most critical time for your business relative to public relations is when a catastrophe, scandal or other negative event occurs which involves your company or industry sector at large.
Things can and do go wrong in the best-managed companies and organizations. Therefore, accepting this and anticipating certain crises may minimize the potential damage from them.
TOO MUCH AT RISK
Contingency planning for crises is not just good management, it is mandatory for any business.
Many businesses today have high risk, high visibility and high impact on the public – and high exposure to potential crises. And the potential damage from a crisis can be greatly multiplied.
An unprepared, misinformed or ill-at-ease company spokesperson, a disgruntled employee and a victim of a tragedy at a job site potentially can do inestimable damage to your business or industry by their remarks to the media and postings on the internet.
UNPREPARED FOR SPOTLIGHT
Yet there are countless times when a company representative is thrust into the spotlight as an official spokesperson with little or no training in dealing with the media, especially in a crisis.
Indeed, when it comes to dealing with the media, most people would rather be excused from the task because they are ill-prepared psychologically and professionally to deal with it.
In today’s world, you must be prepared.
RANGE OF CONSEQUENCES
Conducting public relations activities without a plan is analogous to taking on a building project without a blueprint and specifications, or a business trying to manage growth without a strategy.
Conducting crisis communications and public relations during emergencies without a plan and training could be self-destructive because of the potential damage to your company’s image, revenue, employees, management and industry.
If you don’t believe the magnitude of damage that can result from crises and catastrophes, think about the effect of poor public relations efforts during the Wells Fargo scandal or the cybersecurity breach at Experian.
COMMIT TO PLANNING, TRAINING
It’s time to truly recognize the importance and potential impact of public relations and crisis management on your business and to do something about it.
Start in your organization, industry and professional associations by developing public relations plans that include crisis management and by training key employees to deal with the media.
Otherwise, the future of your company and your industry could be at risk.
Glenn Ebersole, Professional Engineer, is business development manager at CVMNEXT Construction in King of Prussia. He can be reached at email@example.com or 610-964-2800, ext. 155.