When a crisis strikes, how effective are those carefully crafted crisis communication plans? That question came up in independent conversations I’ve had over the past several months with several well-respected corporate communications professionals.
Following are paraphrased and combined summaries of the varied answers I heard.
Answer #1: When you’re in the midst of a crisis, the last thing you want to do is pick up some 200-page document. There’s no time for that. The training, the practice and the drills you do ahead of time are what helps. The written plan may assist in the drills but it is of little value in the midst of an actual crisis.
Answer #2: The plans themselves are of little value in the midst of a crisis, but the process of putting together the plan is where the value lies. The planning process will uncover the holes in your crisis response. The planning process will help you think through what all needs to be done. Thinking everything through when things are calm will help you react when everything is coming down on you. As Dwight Eisenhower once said: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”
Answer #3: If they are done right, plans are of great value in a crisis. It’s hard to think straight when all hell is breaking loose. Good plans have checklists that can be used during a crisis so things don’t get overlooked and left undone. Some companies create a plan for each team member that is customized to their role. When a crisis hits, each member of the crisis team grabs his or her book and starts working their way through their checklists. Also, having pre-approved templates and messages helps speed the response time.
What Say You?
So, what do you think? Which answer matches your past experiences? Are plans worth the paper they are written on? Is the planning process the real value? Are some plans made for action and others made to rest on a bookshelf? Do you use your plan? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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