Docstoc

Crisis Communications Poll

Document Sample
Crisis Communications Poll Powered By Docstoc
					                  Crisis Communications Poll:
                          Are We Ready


                                 Andrew M. Amalfitano
                              ©AmalfiCORE Business Solutions
                                      Longmont, CO
                                    February 2, 2010




© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010        Page 1 of 15
Contents
Abstract ..................................................................................................................................................................... 3
         Introduction ................................................................................................................................................... 3
Results ....................................................................................................................................................................... 4
         Response:........................................................................................................................................................ 4
         Crisis Spokesperson: .................................................................................................................................. 5
         Have a Robust Crisis Communications Plan: .................................................................................... 5
Comments ................................................................................................................................................................ 6
Conclusion................................................................................................................................................................ 6
    Appendix A - Poll #1........................................................................................................................................ 7
    Appendix B - Poll #2........................................................................................................................................ 8
    Appendix C - Feedback Survey Comments [1] ................................................................................... 10
References: ........................................................................................................................................................... 11
Addendum - Suggested Strategy of Crisis Communications ............................................................. 12
         Citations to Addendum: ......................................................................................................................... 15




© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                                                                                                    Page 2 of 15
                           Crisis Communications Poll
                     Conducted by Andy Amalfitano via LinkedIn [1], Feb 1, 2010




Abstract
Who will represent your company during a disaster? Will the message be clear, consistent
and appropriately sensitive. Is the spokesperson ready to be under fire while speaking to a
live audience or the media? These are questions which challenge organizations facing a
crisis. Being prepared with a robust plan and pre-selecting a trained and experienced
spokesperson can make the difference between failure and success.

A majority of people polled in a recent online survey identified the senior leaders of an
organization as the prime candidates to deliver communications during a crisis. Despite
that, feedback was mixed with about half of the respondents stating they believed that
organizations should select the best, most prepared person suited for the tasks, who may
or may not be the most senior leaders.

Most large organizations have a crisis communications plan in place while smaller
organizations do not. Not all of the companies with plans in place think that the plans are
robust, some indicating that the plans had not been drilled or that they knew there was
more work to do.


Introduction
In a recent study co-sponsored by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal,
only "...54 percent of companies indicated that crisis communications was very or
extremely important to [organizational business continuity]"; the study further learned
that there was "...no prevailing approach to crisis communications". [1]

Crises come in many forms, sometimes unpredictable and occasionally with an advanced
degree of notice. Avoiding, deterring, or mitigating a crisis is certainly possible, however,
it's more likely that a crisis will occur unexpectedly. How we communicate just prior to or
during a crisis can make the difference between success and failure, harm and no harm, a
ruined reputation and favorable views, business downturn and profitable growth- whether
that be money, profit, fame, mission accomplishment or goodwill.

I conducted an online survey via a polling application on LinkedIn [2] primarily using non-
stratified random sampling.[3] I also offered the poll to a known audience and the data
collected from that group using convenience sampling.[4] Those responding did so
voluntarily by selecting to vote on one of the many polls which appear on the LinkedIn site.
In addition, I offered the poll to my personal network.


© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                           Page 3 of 15
The questions focused on who, by title leads messaging and do the companies represented
have a specific crisis communications plan. The poll was 'on' and available on a first come
first serve basis for approximately two hours after which time I had collected over 840
total responses to each of two poll questions. I reviewed the data summarized by the
polling application, collected the data, and created summary tables for analysis.

The purpose of Poll #1 is to learn who currently, by job role, has the responsibility to
represent an organization with crisis communications. At the heart of the matter is
awareness that title and rank do not necessarily indicate public-speaking, message
delivery, interviewing skills during a crisis.

1. Extended severe weather, product recall, labor action. Who by title is your spokesperson
during a crisis?

Poll #2 is to learn what percentage of companies of various sizes actually have a crisis
communications plan in place and if so how robust is that plan, in their opinion. A formal
crisis communications plan, along with a person or team prepared, practiced and ready can
contribute to increased likelihood and probability of successful messaging.

2. A Crisis Communications plan can help save lives, property, and restore business health.
Does your company have a plan ready?

Some respondents commented on the poll questions that are included in Appendix C.


Results
Response:

The poll sample size was self-limiting, that is, I set a pre-defined volume of responses at
approximately 400 for each question. It was impressive to see how fast the poll filled and
people responded. I imagine that left unlimited, there may have been several thousand
responses.

Company size, job titles, and business type covered a wide variety of audience disciplines
including, small to enterprise, C-level through, sales, marketing, engineering, operations,
academics and others.

The respondents represented large banking institutions, financial and operations analysts,
networking, marketing and IT departments, continuity trainers, transportation managers.

It was evident from notated feedback that several countries were represented on four
continents.




© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                            Page 4 of 15
Crisis Spokesperson:

Not surprising, fully 60 percent of the respondents indicated that the President/CEO, and
C-Level titles were responsible at their organization for crisis communications. The larger
the organization, the less this was found to be true. Perhaps smaller businesses (42
percent of respondents) often have leaders who wear many hats and therefore it's logical
that the senior leader would be the spokesperson. Larger organizations are more likely to
have addition roles in the corporate communications and public relations areas.

Across job functions, again the CEO and senior leaders were the spokesperson with the
crisis manager a close second.

Perspective reporting by age groups shows that respondents over 35 were least likely to
indicate crisis communications or public relations managers were crisis spokespersons.

See full results for crisis communicator poll in Appendix A.


Have a Robust Crisis Communications Plan:

Nearly half of the respondents indicated their organization had a crisis communications
plan, and over one-third said theirs was 'robust'. However, 34 percent said they no plan at
all. I find that alarming.

I believe that a crisis will tax the skills of most people, including those of us who have faced
those crises. Developing a solid strategy is a good start. Preparing for a crisis should cover a
broad range of crisis types and will be of enormous help in overcoming some of the typical
challenges facing any organization during a crisis. Preparation for the inevitable, requires
the strategy, practice, communication tools, and a thorough understanding of the audiences
who will need to receive the critical messages in a timely manner.

Similar to the first poll question regarding who communicates the message, and again not
surprising, the large the organization the more likely it was that a robust crisis
communications plan exists. One quarter of the respondents were from enterprise size
businesses and over 89 percent said they had a plan.

Consulting, engineering, and sales respondents were the most likely to indicate they had no
crisis communications plan. Without further filtering, it remains unclear the reason for this.
It could be that those job functions do not have clear visibility to that part of the business.
However, it could be equally true that these respondents know that no plan exists.

See full results for crisis communications plan poll in Appendix B.




© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                             Page 5 of 15
Comments
I agree with many of the comments provided in poll feedback that organizations should
select the person most equipped for the task of crisis communications. The person selected
may depend on the nature, size, location, and timing of the disaster and to what extent
having a key leader providing messaging will help improve the situation.

Regardless of the person selected, the individual should be accomplished at basic public
speaking, understanding the impact of non-verbal communications, and be nimble during
an interview. Of course, prepared written statements, while easier to manage will
eventually need live and in-person conversations. This would especially be true during a
protracted incident.

It will help to understand what constitutes good communications and educate those
involved. Hoffman[5] offers the "Ten Cs of Good Communications":
    a. "Be cooperative
    b. Provide control
    c. Demonstrate care and concern
    d. Demonstrate confidence
    e. Be credible
    f. Be consistent
    g. Be clear
    h. Be concise
    i. Remain current
    j. Act calm" [5]

I'd recommend to educate the entire organization on doing their part during typical crises.
Prepare the management team by conducting regular practice with crisis scenarios. Select
the best spokesperson(s) for the task of communicating. This person should have a backup
individual named to perform the task should the primary person not be available.


Conclusion
This informal, random study provides a confirmation of the perception and belief that
senior level leaders are best suited to be the spokesperson during a crisis. I and my of my
colleagues agree, however, that it the best person for the task is the most prepare person,
who may or may not be the most senior leader. Circumstances of each crisis or disaster
would dictate some guidance on the selection.

To the extent possible, even smaller organizations would benefit from pre-planning for
crisis communications. It may make the difference between keeping people safe, reducing
property, product, and brand damage, and the recovering from a disaster in the most
healthy and productive ways possible.


© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                           Page 6 of 15
Appendix A - Poll #1

Statement 1. "Extended severe weather, product recall, labor action. Who by title is your
spokesperson during a crisis?"

Number of Respondents = 441


Overall Results
                                  All
           Choices
 CEO-President                      47%
 C-Level, other                     13%
 Public Relations                   22%
 Crisis Communications
 Mgr                                10%
 Business Continuity Mgr.            6%


By company size
                                 Small                     Large Enterprise
                                                Medium
          Choices                       42%           8%    19%        31%
CEO-President                       59%             40%     50%        45%
C-Level, other                      22%             20%     17%
Public Relations                    11%             20%     25%        30%
Crisis Communications Mgr            7%             20%                10%
Business Continuity Mgr.                                     8%        15%




By Job Title
                              All Other       Management   C-Level,    Owner
                                                             VP
          Choices                  72%               18%          9%          1%
 CEO-President                    42%               67%        67%       100%
 C-Level, other                   11%                6%        33%
 Public Relations                 32%                6%
 Crisis Communications             8%               17%
 Mgr
 Business Continuity Mgr.           7%               4%




© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                            Page 7 of 15
By Job Function
                      Academics        Business  Consulting Marketing Operations         Sales
                                     Development
      Choices                   6%           10%          23%           6%         10%      6%
CEO-President                                33%          86%         100%         67%    50%
C-Level, other                100%
Public Relations                                          14%                      33%
Crisis                                       67%                                          50%
Communications
Mgr
Business
Continuity Mgr.



By Age
                                 18-24       25-34        35-54         55+
           Choices                    11%          40%          45%           5%
 CEO-President                        44%          58%          51%          25%
 C-Level, other                       11%           9%          14%
 Public Relations                     33%          18%          30%          50%
 Crisis Communications                              6%           5%          25%
 Mgr
 Business Continuity Mgr.             12%          9%




Appendix B - Poll #2

Statement: "A Crisis Communications plan can help save lives, property, and restore business
health. Does your company have a plan ready?"
Number of Respondents = 423



Overall Results
                                     All
           Choices
 Yes, robust plan, trained
 team                                  25%
 Yes, have plan, no drill yet           9%
 Yes, have plan, needs
 work                                  15%
 No plan in place                      34%
 Not sure                              14%


© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                            Page 8 of 15
By company size
                                  Small                         Large        Enterprise
                                                Medium
           Choices                      40%            19%          19%              22%
 Yes, robust plan, trained            10%              33%          27%              59%
 team
 Yes, have plan, no drill yet          6%               7%                           18%
 Yes, have plan, needs                13%               7%          20%              12%
 work
 No plan in place                     52%                           40%              12%
                                                       47%
 Not sure                             19%               6%          12%




By Job Title
                                All Other     Management        C-Level,          Owner
                                                                  VP
          Choices                    72%                18%           9%              1%
 Yes, robust plan, trained          26%                18%          14%
 team
 Yes, have plan, no drill             4%               11%          14%             100%
 yet
 Yes, have plan, needs              15%                14%
 work
 No plan in place                   44%                32%          71%
 Not sure                           11%                25%




By Job Function
                           Consulting       Creative   Engineer         IT         Marketing        Sales
        Choices                   19%            8%            8%            8%           11%            8%
Yes, robust plan,                 14%           67%           33%       33%
trained team
Yes, have plan, no drill                        33%                                       25%
yet
Yes, have plan, needs             14%                                   33%               25%
work
No plan in place                  71%                         67%       33%               25%         100%
Not sure                                                                                  25%




© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                                         Page 9 of 15
By Age
                                   18-24          25-34          35-54           55+
           Choices                      11%             40%           45%              5%
 Yes, robust plan, trained               8%            27%           27%
 team
 Yes, have plan, no drill yet            8%             9%           11%            33%
 Yes, have plan, needs                  25%            18%           11%            67%
 work
 No plan in place                       33%            33%           47%
 Not sure                               26%            13%            4%




Appendix C - Feedback Survey Comments [1]

This is a representative quoted sampling of comments received regarding who by title
should represent a company for crisis communications.

   1. "I think CEO is the only person who can deliver a very effective message for such a big crisis and
      event like these. People i.e. internal and external will believe him and take his message more
      seriously comparative to some other person in the co."

   2. "A well trained professional will handle the public interface with more assurance and project
      strong credibility at times when the public want facts and figures."

   3. "The CEO should be the right person to deal with such delicate issues."

   4. "It is the responsibility of senior and middle management to bring all such issues with every
      minor details in attention of CEO, so that later there won't be any complications on company's
      good will and repute, just in case of different saying of CEO and other spokespersons."

   5. "I think responsibility must be the professional best suited to this type of communication, and in
      my opinion this is the task of Public Relations. Communications involving the word of the CEO
      should always have a role relevant to give good news."

   6. "I think CEO is the only person who can deliver a very effective message for such a big crisis and
      event like these. People i.e. internal and external will believe him and take his message more
      seriously comparative to some other person in the co. A well trained professional will handle the
      public interface with more assurance and project strong credibility at times when the public want
      facts and figures."

   7. "It probably depends on the type of business, severity of each of the situations. What's most
      important is having a CAPABILITY to identify, define and organize around the situation....could
      be different each time."

   8. "As per me, it should be the Public Relations not CEO."


© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                                     Page 10 of 15
    9. "I think the CEO is the only person who van deliver a very effective message for a big crisis like
       this. He or She should be the only person who can get this message seriously to the public
       across."

References:
[1] Balaouras, Stephanie. 2010. “Crisis Communication and Risk Management in Business Continuity
Preparedness”, Disaster Recovery Journal, Winter 2010 Vol. 23 Number 1.

[2] LinkedIn. An online professional social networking site. www.linkedin.com.

[3] Trochim, William M.K., 2006. "Probability Sampling", Research Methods Knowledge Base. Source accessed
2-2-10: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/sampprob.php

[4] Trochim, William M.K., 2006. "Non-Probability Sampling", Research Methods Knowledge Base. Source
accessed 2-2-10: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/sampnon.php

[5] Hoffman, Judith C., 2008. “Keeping Cool on the Hot Seat-Dealing Effectively with the Media in Times of
Crisis”, 4th edition, Chapter 13.




           www.amalficore.com. AmalfiCORE, LLC 2010 All rights reserved. AmalfiCORE LinkedIn Polls




© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                                           Page 11 of 15
Addendum - Suggested Strategy of Crisis Communications
by Andy Amalfitano, Jan, 2010


A Strategy for Crisis Communications

Implementing a reliable crisis communications strategy can help our overall chances of doing no
harm and may even be a benefit in the organization. On the other hand, the lack of timely and
appropriate communications can lead to poor handling or the perception of inadequate
management of an incident. The long term effects of this perception may ruin an organization
permanently or at the least, damage the reputation in a way that upsets the expected and usual
growth of the business or mission.

A good communication strategy should exist within the framework of organizational guiding
principles. Developing a suitable strategy is typically the job of corporate leaders, risk
management, public relations and or the business continuity professional.

I would propose these strategic elements be included when developing a crisis communications
strategy:
     Crisis Category Identification
     Policy Creation
     Crisis Management Team
     Process
     Plan
     Education & Preparation

Each of these elements can be explained further and will be integral to the crisis
communications success.


Crisis Category Identification

Identify the types of crisis that may occur in order to be prepared for the more likely situations.
There is no sense in preparing for events which may never or rarely occur. However, it's
appropriate and helpful to be prepared in general for a broad and flexible group of common
crisis types.

Crisis can be categorized into five types [1]:
 Sudden Crisis
 "Creeping" Crisis



© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                               Page 12 of 15
   Predictable Crisis
   Crisis caused by dumb decisions
   Cyber Crisis

Policy Creation
Create a plan guided by a corporate or organizational policy that provides guidelines which
reflect the values, attitudes, and business constraints of the company.

Selection of a Crisis Management Team
Identify a crisis management team-CMT[4] who will be activated just prior to a known crisis or
during a crisis. Select different people for various role types needed to handle a crisis. This
should include a solid spokesperson who may or may not be the CEO or top leader.

Process
Create and follow an organized approach to developing the plan. Process adherence provides a
repeatable approach and should also allow for flexibility to respond to changes in internal and
external forces.

Determination should also be made as to who leads or manages the process. This can be a
formal role, like 'crisis communications manager', or an assignment given to a risk manager,
public relations director, and the like.

Plan
Development of a crisis communication plan should be done in a manner that considers the
types of crisis identified, guiding policies, the select CMT, and incorporation of solidly accepted
communications best practices.

Crisis communications requires planning in order to bring about the most good for the most
types of situations. The actual plan design is varied depending on the type of organization and
audiences. However, there are some basic elements that all good crisis communication plans
should include:

1. Follow the Process
   Follow an organized approach to developing the plan. Encourage engagement and
   accountability of the crisis communication project team. Choose experienced
   spokesperson(s) to communicate the key messages.

2. Policy Adherence
   Leaders of the organization should create a policy that advises the plan creation. The policy
   should provide constraints and acceptable operating guidelines. If there are nuances that
   apply differently to different campus locations, those nuances should be distinguishable
   from general guidance.


© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                               Page 13 of 15
3. Initial Preparation
   Identify people/job roles who should be involved in the plan development, as well as, those
   who play key roles during a crisis. Determine who will be the spokesperson(s). This might be
   the campus VP or other chief campus administrator. Train and practice with these people.

4. Identify Audience(s)
   Fully understand and know your audiences. Employees, media, stockholders, citizens, local
   officials, regulatory agencies, emergency responders and other stakeholders. Take steps to
   meet with each of these stakeholders, often separately, to build rapport.

   The college campus system organization has several stakeholders with the primary audience
   being the students, faculty, and administration. When a crisis occurs that begins with the
   college and extends into the community, then the media becomes the more important
   outlet for sending clear messages.[3]

5. Plan Initiation
   From the Colorado Non-Profit Association come these steps in the initiation of a good
   communications plan:
   a) "Safety
   b) Notification
   c) CMT
   d) Situational Assessment
   e) Developing Key Messages
   f) Staff / Board notification
   g) Media Messages
   h) Partner and key group notifications
   i) Record keeping
   j) Media message evaluation
   k) Communication updates
   l) Loose ends
   m) Evaluation the Management of the Crisis
   n) Post-crisis clean up" [6]

6. Crisis Communications Evaluation
   The campus CMT and spokesperson should debrief what is happening during the crisis, how
   the messages are being received, and consider how to modify messages if necessary.

   Create a portion of the After Action Report-AAR related to communications and document
   findings. Build a lessons learned attitude among the crisis team.

7. Education and Preparation



© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                           Page 14 of 15
    It will help to understand what constitutes good communications and educate those
    involved. Hoffman offers the "Ten Cs of Good Communications":
    k. "Be cooperative
    l. Provide control
    m. Demonstrate care and concern
    n. Demonstrate confidence
    o. Be credible
    p. Be consistent
    q. Be clear
    r. Be concise
    s. Remain current
    t. Act calm" [4]

    Educate the entire organization on doing their part during typical crises. Prepare the CMT to
    manage crises by conducting regular practice with crisis scenarios. Select the best
    spokesperson(s) for the task of communicating. This person should have a backup individual
    named to perform the task should the primary person not be available.

    These preparation steps can drastically improve the communications efficacy during an
    actual event.

______________________________________________________________________________

Citations to Addendum:

[1] Hoffman, Judith C., 2008. “Keeping Cool on the Hot Seat-Dealing Effectively with the Media in Times of
Crisis”, 4th edition, Chapter 3.

[2] BNET.com,2010. "Business Definition for: Crisis Management". Source accessed 1-14-10:
http://dictionary.bnet.com/definition/Crisis+Management.html

[3] Hoffman, chapter 8.

[4] CNPA. 2010. “Crisis Communications Toolkit”, Colorado Non-Profit Association. Source accessed 1-24-10:
http://www.coloradononprofits.org/crisiscomm.pdf




           www.amalficore.com. AmalfiCORE, LLC 2010 All rights reserved. AmalfiCORE LinkedIn Polls



© AmalfiCORE, LLC. Crisis Communications Poll, 2/2/2010                                           Page 15 of 15

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Stats:
views:82
posted:4/12/2010
language:English
pages:15
Description: Who will represent your company during a disaster? Will the message be clear, consistent and appropriately sensitive. Is the spokesperson ready to be under fire while speaking to a live audience or the media? These are questions which challenge organizations facing a crisis. Being prepared with a robust plan and pre-selecting a trained and experienced spokesperson can make the difference between failure and success.