Archive for the ‘crisis communication’ Category

Floods highlight the importance of business continuity planning

In his second post for Media Insights and Crisis Expertise, Senior Associate Director, Peter Roberts, reflects on the impact of floods currently affecting parts of the UK, and the role business continuity planning can play in minimising the impact of such disasters.

The extreme flooding that has struck England’s North West in recent days has underlined the variable nature of crises. The situation is also a sharp reminder to all businesses, wherever they’re located of the importance of business continuity plans.

Quite simply, business continuity is about anticipating the crises that could affect an organisation and then planning for them. It’s also something we spend a lot of our time doing at Hill & Knowlton.

So, how best to develop a robust plan? Fundamentally, any company is only five steps away from ensuring that they’re in a far better position to withstand a critical situation, with appropriate planning.

  • Step 1: Analyse your business and get an understanding of the processes involved.
  • Step 2: Assess the risks to your business. Threats come in different forms, from power cuts, to staff absenteeism.
  • Step 3: Develop how you’ll combat such risks. Principally, what needs to be done and who will carry out the actions.
  • Step 4: Develop your business continuity plan (BCP). This can be as simple as you want and will contain all relevant contact numbers, resources and procedures.
  • Step 5: Test and update the plan. It’s vital that your plan is tested and that staff are familiar with their roles.

It’s a common misunderstanding that business continuity is only a big organisation issue; this is, quite simply, not the case. The size of any plan will depend on the risks facing a business – it will be as large or small as needed.

Ultimately, experience demonstrates that organisations are more likely to survive a crisis if they have planned for one in advance. – Peter

For help in reviewing or developing your organisation’s business continuity or crisis communication plan, please get in touch with us by clicking here. – Grant

Climate change: highlighting the importance of behaviour as communication

Last night I attended the launch of the Advance Green Network at Australia House in London. This network seeks to bring together ex-pat Australians, and their colleagues, to help get people involved in the quest for a more sustainable future.

Keynote speaker, Howard Bamsey, Australia’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, made the point that in the lead-up to the UN Conference on Climate Change, COP15, what governments around the world are looking for are commitments. And this is the basis for this post – on an issue such as climate change, the public requires not a communication solution (ugh), but a behavioural one. What is it that I/you/we/they can do that actually makes a difference? And…will you do it?

This differentiation can be a difficult one for issues and crisis management. If your crisis is an oil spill, a plant explosion, a tsunami or any one of a hundred other things that visibly change the world, then your response involves actually fixing something – either patching it up, or eliminating the source of the problem. Clearly that’s behavioural.

The challenge comes with reputation-based issues where there’s a desire to deal with the symptom rather than the cause. Anything that falls under the general heading of “complaints” is usually a good example, i.e. product faults, customer service incidents, automated “help” lines and the like.

In these instances our first reaction is usually to deal with the complaint, and if that’s successful then that’s usually the end of the issue (in our eyes). The problem with this approach though is that it never deals with the cause of the complaint – we just slot into a pattern of complaint, fix, complaint, fix, wash, rinse repeat. Until one day we realise we’ve accrued dozens of complaints, made hundreds of refunds or lost thousands of pounds worth of sales.

For crisis managers then, it’s important when these niggling issues arise to take five minutes out from the problem, and really consider if fixing it requires us to say something, or do something. Think about the message you send by acting, rather than placating. Actions speak louder than words, and for good reason.