Crisis Management _ The Boss - Cincinnati Public Relations by wanghonghx


									Crisis Management & The Boss                    with or without a plan or a protocol, in        The first step in creating this program is to
By Rodger Roeser, President,                    the event of a crisis, you’re going to be       get the necessary parties involved and sit-
The Eisen Agency & National Chairman,           involved – so best to be prepared. It may       ting at the same table -- most likely the top
Public Relations Agency Owners Association      take a bit of convincing and cajoling to the    officer, HR, legal and perhaps the top per-
                                                top brass (and trust me, those that need it     son in outside/inside sales and/or customer
A simple online search of crisis manage-        the most are the most reluctant), but share     service – and of course, you and your PR
ment seems to yield virtually everything        how important being prepared is, that           agency senior counsel. An email with a
conceivable about the subject, from pun-        development of a program is not that dif-       request is probably not going to suffice.
dits and experts to this very book you’re       ficult or time consuming, and that having a     Sit down and talk with each stakeholder
reviewing. It’s something you hope to           plan will avert an infinite number of costly    in this equation, and relate to that specific
never be confronted with as a professional,     mistakes – mistakes that could, and most        public on the benefits of this program and
yet you intuitively know and understand         likely will (BP) cost that very boss her job.   why they are an important piece.
it’s something with which you must be           It most certainly will cost you yours.
prepared. There are many ways to handle                                                         Sidebar: Now, if you are NOT the top
and manage a crisis but it always begins        Remember, most bosses don’t think in            marketing officer, you need to start with
and ends with a plan. But, in my career         terms of today, they think in terms of          them and get this meeting going. If he or
and my experience, I find that less than 10     tomorrow and how what is happening              she is not receptive to creating a crisis
percent of organizations actually have a        today will impact and affect the future         management plan and protocol, I en-
crisis management protocol or plan – and        – be it value of the company, consumer          courage getting your resume polished
even fewer actually practice response on a      confidence and so forth. So, it’s critical to   up – because that person, particularly in
regular basis. Why?                             impress upon them that the very nature of       that position, officially qualifies as a bad
                                                crisis management is designed not to make       boss and is likely to quickly throw you
The boss.                                       a crisis go away, but to respond profes-        under the bus in the event of an issue for
                                                sionally in a manner that makes the orga-       not being prepared and is the type to pass
Smart bosses understand the importance          nization and its leadership appear to be in     blame. If you have a situation where you
of being prepared – the critical nature of      control and mitigate long term negativity.      are turned down for this type of project, I
practice, rehearsal and messaging. So, for                                                      would suggest you be certain to document
all of you without a crisis communica-          If confronted with “we can’t focus on that      that and be certain it’s in your employment
tions plan or protocol, walk into the bosses    today, we have x next week,” remember,          files that you requested and suggested such
office today and say, “I’m going to get         those types of excuses will always come         a meeting and a plan.
started on our crisis communications plan-      up. Ask for a good time, and that this must
ning.” I will bet you a donut you’ll get one    be a communications and leadership prior-       It would be odd that a junior level profes-
of the following two responses:                 ity, then work to set and get on a schedule.    sional request such a meeting. So, assum-
                                                I encourage the use of a Gantt Chart that       ing you’re the senior level leader in the
1). Why? What’s that for? Or 2), We             details involvement, timelines and antici-      marketing and communications depart-
don’t need that and that’s not what we’re       pated delivery dates and milestones. But        ment and you don’t have such a plan…
focused on right now.                           remember, crises don’t schedule them-
                                                selves when it’s convenient. Time has to        …start today. You are putting your job and
Smart bosses already have a crisis plan in      be invested, and better to do it today than     your company at risk.
place, and review it every 6 months like        to wait and hope nothing happens. Hope
clockwork, and practice regularly. Other        is a very expensive commodity in crisis         Assemble the team. Anyone that could or
smart bosses that don’t have this in place      communication.                                  would have a direct response with some
are looking to their communications team                                                        type of challenge that may come up and
to proactively suggest and develop a crisis     Now that you’ve spoken in terms the boss        affect your external publics is at the table.
plan in the absence of one, or in the event     will understand (loss of job, loss of share-    Then, you simply begin by establishing
it’s out of date (more than 12 months old).     holder value, loss of board confidence,         a set of protocols and criteria for exactly
But, as we all know, most bosses just           the appearance of a lack of strong leader-      how you would respond in the event of
aren’t that smart. Right?                       ship and vision), there are a few simple        a crisis. Again, this is simply a protocol
                                                steps to communicating this internally and      document. Who is authorized to speak to
Certainly, they’ve done something right         ultimately getting to the plan. One critical    the media, how do the communications
or they wouldn’t be where they are now.         point, if you’ve never done crisis manage-      channels work, do we have a “dark site”
So, what the boss is really saying is, “You     ment planning – now is not the time to          set up (Oh, you don’t know that is? Call
haven’t communicated to me the impor-           learn. For goodness sakes, call in a profes-    in professional), and what are we trying to
tance of doing that.”                           sional firm (any writer of any article in       accomplish. All of this is agreed to before-
                                                this book would likely suffice) as they are     hand by leadership, protocols established
Funny thing is, in the event of an emer-        versed and have created likely dozens, if       company wide, and would be part of your
gency or crisis, they’ll be contacting you      not more, crisis plans in their career, have    master document.
and say “I need you to spin this.” Or,          the knowledge and expertise, and perhaps
“you’re the PR guy, I pay you for this, go      most importantly are able to navigate ob-       Clearly, these policies and protocols
fix it.” So, resign yourself to the fact that   jectively through internal “politics.”          should be shared with all employees.
And, this should be practiced, at least
every six months with mock drills. I also
like to suggest doing “secret shopper” type
of work where “a member of the media”
calls someone at work and tries to bait
them into a quote or some type of com-
ment. After you implement this, try it – bet
you another donut at least 50 percent of
employees fail. If that is the case, you
need to be certain this was communicated
and clearly shared internally by all means
possible, and its importance reinforced,
practiced and shared.

And remember, this is only step one. But
how you communicate to the internal
publics both in setting up and creating the
plan, then reinforcing the protocols is criti-
cal to the success.

If there is no policy or protocol, don’t be
angry when a low level employee goes
spouting off to the news media or offering
up quotes and responses. Who does that
hurt? You – again, it may cost you your
job and certainly hurts the reputation of
the business. Oh, that’s right, you’re too
busy today and the boss doesn’t want to
focus on that right now.

About the Author

Rodger Roeser is the owner and president
of Greater Cincinnati’s premier inves-
tor and public relations firm, The Eisen
Agency. A 2011 Smart Business Pillar
Award winner, twice named a Busi-
ness Courier Fast55 and NKY Chamber
Emerging 30 Business as one of the
fastest growing businesses of any kind in
the region, and honored with numerous
industry awards, The Eisen Agency is the
most award winning public relations firm
in Greater Cincinnati. Roeser is the current
Cincinnati PRSA PR Professional of the
Year, and served as Cincinnati Chapter
president in 2005 and is the founder of the
chapter’s Blacksmith Awards. He is the
national chairman of the Public Relations
Agency Owners Association, and the host
of national online radio show “That Mar-
keting Show.”

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