Preparation: /prɛpəˈreɪʃ(ə)n/ the action or process of preparing or being prepared for use or consideration.

We talk about being better organised; better thought out; more prepared all the time when it comes to comms. And that’s just for the stuff we know is going to happen.

What then, if we are talking about the unknown; the unplanned; unprovoked; unwanted things that occur without any warning? This is how a crisis often rears its ugly head; without notice or scope for us to pre-empt how much time or energy it will need in order to be managed effectively.

Although we can predict some incidences might take place, it is impossible for us to prepare for every eventuality.

What we can do though, is have the right structures and processes in place so that as and when a crisis does strike, the dedicated crisis comms team know what protocol to follow and what course of action needs to be taken.

This can include everything from who to contact in the event of a crisis, through to advising staff, emergency contacts, handling media on and offline, and the methodology by which we manage and protect corporate reputation. The rate at which a crisis can spiral with the advent of digital media is incredible, so it’s essential to be quick to move and react in the right way.

Another crucial point to consider is the need for calmness in the eye of a storm. What companies require if a crisis arises is a methodical approach. They need structure and reassurance that everything is in hand. There’s no denying it, this can be an uncomfortable time, especially if the company in question has dropped a ball. This high pressure environment really whittles out the wheat from the chaff.

And there’s no use in ignoring it either. Lots of organisations take the ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach, hoping that nothing bad will ever happen. This is a little arrogant – even for those brands that aren’t consumer facing, human error can occur within the smallest of businesses.

Regardless of size, sector or whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand, the company needs to react and act in the right way.

Too often, crisis communications and managing reputation are disregarded, as organisations are frightened of what it might entail. That it might be costly. What organisations don’t appreciate is if they don’t get it right, the fallout could cost them far more than monetary value; it could be their reputation on the line.

If you are baffled by the terminology or know you should be doing something to prepare for the unexpected then download my company’s easy to digest A-Z of Crisis Comms. This will help open your eyes to the different things you need to consider to ensure you are prepared for a crisis lurking around the corner.