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Crisis Communications Poll:
                          Are We Ready


                                 Andrew M. Amalfitano...
Contents
Abstract ...........................................................................................................
Crisis Communications Poll
                     Conducted by Andy Amalfitano via LinkedIn [1], Feb 1, 2010




Abstract
Wh...
The questions focused on who, by title leads messaging and do the companies represented
have a specific crisis communicati...
Crisis Spokesperson:

Not surprising, fully 60 percent of the respondents indicated that the President/CEO, and
C-Level ti...
Comments
I agree with many of the comments provided in poll feedback that organizations should
select the person most equi...
Appendix A - Poll #1

Statement 1. "Extended severe weather, product recall, labor action. Who by title is your
spokespers...
By Job Function
                      Academics        Business  Consulting Marketing Operations         Sales
           ...
By company size
                                  Small                         Large        Enterprise
                  ...
By Age
                                   18-24          25-34          35-54           55+
           Choices            ...
9. "I think the CEO is the only person who van deliver a very effective message for a big crisis like
       this. He or S...
Addendum - Suggested Strategy of Crisis Communications
by Andy Amalfitano, Jan, 2010


A Strategy for Crisis Communication...
   Predictable Crisis
   Crisis caused by dumb decisions
   Cyber Crisis

Policy Creation
Create a plan guided by a cor...
3. Initial Preparation
   Identify people/job roles who should be involved in the plan development, as well as, those
   w...
It will help to understand what constitutes good communications and educate those
    involved. Hoffman offers the "Ten Cs...
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Crisis Communications Polls Feb10

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Report back on this week\'s poll results regarding who should be the corporate communicator during a disaster and do organizations have a robust plan in place.

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Transcript of "Crisis Communications Polls Feb10"

  1. 1. 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
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13.  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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 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

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