Jan 08, 2015 Categories: Crisis Communications & Reputation Management Tags: Communications, Corporate Communications, Crisis Identification, Leadership, Public Relations

contingency planningMedia kicked off the New Year by reminding us what to expect of 2015 — including the gamut of risks most likely to threaten businesses in coming months.  We will see new types of risk move to the forefront — with heightened geopolitical tensions, the threat of terrorism, and cyber attacks leading the list of businesses’ concerns.

This ought to be a wake-up call for CEOs and Heads of Communications alike – that is, if they are committed to making contingency planning front and center of their business’s best practices and culture. However, if history repeats itself, the majority of companies will be slow to increase their level of preparedness.

Yet, so much is at stake – the company’s reputation, the loss of huge amount of data, the ability to protect and service clients, etc. Not having a contingency plan (not to speak of an updated one) in place can severely damage a company’s reputation. Investors, employees, customers and others want to know that a company has thought through how it will respond to crises and how it will keep people informed through the process.

While contingency planning does not provide 100 percent protection against any type of risk, it does help mitigate the fallout — by anticipating likely scenarios, preparing for a response, etc.  More importantly, it aligns a corporation’s strategy with the evolving market and risk environment, and fine-tunes the corporate culture to develop a risk-appropriate mindset.  Those businesses that whole heartedly embrace a “risk culture” are, no doubt, at least one step ahead when it comes to a timely and appropriate response to security threats — or worse.

For those businesses that are second guessing the importance of contingency planning, there are numerous examples of “what went wrong” that we see every day in confusing, incomplete and fractured communications, and that demonstrate how a company’s reputation can be tarnished by failure to plan ahead.

Katrin Lieberwirth

Image via Wikimedia Commons