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Friday, 15 May 2015

How PR builds crisis resilience

word art saying crisis resilience

Assessing risks and practising how to manage them helps make an organisations crisis-ready, but boosting reputation with PR lays a solid foundation to help companies weather a crisis storm.

A typical crisis cycle is: Prevent-Prepare-Respond-Recover, then the cycle begins again. The one time you won't have time to build resilience with PR is at the response stage. However, the earlier you plan to build up resilience, the earlier you benefit from it.

I've heard a lot of business people moan that awards, trade association membership requirements and kite marks are more trouble than they are worth. In steady times, I can see how it feels like that. But I've seen businesses that have contributed to deaths being given the benefit of the doubt and survive - partly due to the credible external endorsement provided by awards and trade bodies.

Put it this way: if a crisis hits your organisation, do you think your chances of business survival are better if:

  1. You have been judged to be an award-winning organisation (or at least a finalist)? 
  2. You are an accredited member of a relevant trade organisation? 
  3. Your organisation has a well-recognised kite-mark(s) that have been externally assessed to prove you meet certain standards?
  4. Your company has earned editorial coverage in reputable media?
  5. You regularly practise crisis scenarios plus crisis and media communications skills?
One is good, two or three would be better, four is excellent and all five is impressive.

And we don't just talk about it: we are proud to say that we walk that talk. 
  1. PHPR reached the finals of the top Scottish environmental awards for business: VIBES. We have held several other awards from Network UK and BAIE. We know first-hand how useful awards are for publicity, both online and in the media, on top of adding resilience to the business. We do better publicity for clients that earn environmental awards because we have been through the process. And we have prepared award-winning evidence-based submissions for our clients.
  2. Experienced accredited PR people have to submit proof of continuous professional development (CPD). Both PHPR and I have been fully accredited by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. We research the latest thinking in crisis communications as part of our ongoing CPD.And we encourage clients to not only do CPD, but to be seen to be externally accredited as doing it so that they have proof of implementing good quality training and systems.
  3. When PHPR employed people we attained (and subsequently retained) the Investors in People standard which was a kitemark either held by, or aspired to by most of our key client market. 
  4. We have regularly generated national and international coverage for clients, plus online coverage and have featured in various publications ourselves. 
  5. We practise scenarios alongside clients to help them build resilience and PHPR provides crisis and media communications skills training in conjunction with 

Practise is perfect when it comes to adding crisis resilience. So, do score potential risks on severity of impact potential, plus likelihood potential, and run detailed scenarios for the top risk scorers. The materials you create out of those practice sessions and the contact lists you create (if kept up to date) will be invaluable when a real-life crisis comes along. Even if the crisis doesn't exactly match a scenario you have run, it's much easier to adapt existing materials than to start from a blank sheet. And it feels more like incident management than a crisis panic when you have excellent material and systems in place, giving you the best possible chance of coming through the crisis.

Do lay the foundations of your business reputation through external accreditation with awards, trade body accreditation and kite marks. This is a win:win as you will boost the business reputation: crisis or no crisis.

We practise what we preach, so we know how to help you effectively. 

Need help? 
Contact us to discuss boosting your crisis resilience - or any other aspect of PR. Call Penny on 0131 669 5190.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.


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