Does Your Budget Have Room for a Crisis Plan?
In nearly 30 years of working in the reputation management business, including more than 20 years with two of the world’s largest agencies, I cannot recall anyone disagreeing that their organization’s crisis defenses and preparedness need to be strengthened.
Yet the number of times that creating a new plan made it onto the next year’s budget would be about one in ten.
So, what gives?
Budgets are tight and manpower in corporate communications teams is limited. Inevitably there are many competing organizational priorities. Senior executives who control budgets have their own pet projects.
However, it really comes down to the insurance syndrome.
Without a mandate to buy insurance (such as car and house policies), to be motivated to buy a policy you must feel there is a real threat. You must sense the looming danger.
The further out that risk appears to be, the less likely you are to take action. Which is why so many of us delay saving for retirement until it’s too late to make the number that will make retirement comfortable.
We have just entered budget planning season for 2018 programs. Given the rising uncertainties and a glut of corporate crises, this year should be different for crisis planning budgets.
Equifax and its stumbling, troubling management of its massive data leak is just the latest of the 2017 casualties in a vintage crop of corporate disasters.
As a reminder of the other participants in this golden age of crisis, already this year we’ve had, among many others, United Airlines and Dr Dao, Uber and its toxic management culture, British Airways and its IT collapse, Pepsi and the Kendall Jenner video, Delta and the Atlanta thunderstorms, Chipotle and its data breach, PWC and the Oscars flub, Wells Fargo’s ongoing tribulations and anyone mentioned in a Presidential tweet.
As we have observed many times previously, this is not just a bad year for corporate reputations.
This is permanent.
When you look at the underlying causes and accelerants of many of this year’s vintage crop of crises, it reveals fundamental trends and shifts that will not go away.
Clearly social media is a huge influence. Most of the 2017’s rich stew of brand damage was either born on social media or was fanned by the extreme reactions of people on social media.
But it’s not just a social media driven phenomenon.
Technology generally has a huge part to play in this. For example - the fact that every consumer has a video on their smartphone and the means to post their efforts within seconds of an ugly incident taking place is a massive factor.
But there are also generational factors. Millennials are more engaged with brands and have different expectations. Millennials can be a very bad enemy when a brand misbehaves.
This really should be the year that crisis planning finally makes it into your budget.