Crisis Planning 101

It is interesting to note that Monday morning quarterbacking occurs not only after football games, but certainly after a crisis.

Our local business journal did an extensive story on how crisis planning would have greatly helped immediately after the recent stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair. Several local public relations gurus weighed in on the subject, and there was a clear sense that crisis planning is almost always needed, but never done.

Well, that’s pretty much accurate. Most companies, nonprofits and government are wildly absent good crisis planning. Most people don’t want to pay for it. But, I think there’s something more to it. In my experience, it appears that many people don’t want to face the facts. In other words, something really bad could happen to you, your business or customer, but you choose to ignore it.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that a bona-fide crisis can run the gamut. But rocket scientists do understand that now, but after terrible tragedies in the space shuttle program. NASA learned after Challenger that some things are just inconceivable, but very real. They were caught totally unprepared for the deluge after the disaster.

To prepare for the unimaginable, the unthinkable, the unforeseeable, it takes a hard look internally. Many times, the company or institution is the very last one to be objective and look at possible trouble from a 30,000-foot view. That’s where a detached, PR professional can be of help. I bastardize a term to describe the process of running the ridiculous to the sublime scenarios of a potential crisis: Visioning.

You must step back, explore all the possibilities and not leave a stone unturned. I do always remind clients in the throes of a crisis of this: Fact is stranger than fiction.

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