It is not easy to get senior management to listen to communicators about the importance of crisis communication plans. Quite often, executives will perceive crises and emergencies only in terms of an operational response (“Put the fire out and return to full operations ASAP.”). This is an extremely frustrating attitude to encounter. Those executives will need to be convinced of the impact on the organization’s operations and therefore its profitability before they take full notice of your communication plan. (In a government agency the discussion would need to be about the impact on efficiency and the government’s attitude to a public shambles.) At least, in a sense, the COVID catastrophe around the world has forced executives to take more notice of potential crises. This will make it easier to convince top management with your crisis communication plan.
A great crisis communication plan is only as good as the extent to which it is implemented. Here are some ideas to get senior management to respect your crisis communication and support its implementation:
For a start, you can include these information lists on US crises in recent years:
Image: from the Institute of Crisis Management.
Any concerns about management not understanding the importance of crisis communication must be addressed in the pre-crisis planning phase. You need to be proactive and meet with the emergency response planners now. Show them your competence and expertise. Be energetic. Set your own time aside for thinking through and documenting for your reference any action points. Act promptly on those action points.
A further thought is to get your team to work through the table, opposite, to estimate on a scale of 1 to 10 the probability of the crises to which your organization is most likely to be prone, as well as the possible financial impact of each type. Then you could explore how far you could take discussion of this up the corporate ladder to see the extent of interest in the implications.
You can read more about causes of crises in my article: “What will cause your next organizational crisis?” This information will be valuable in helping you to convince top management with your crisis communication plan.
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