You know your enemy, and it is you

Whether an event becomes a crisis or a challenge hinges on the leadership's response.

March 24, 2022
President of Strategic Communications

Your company’s most significant liability is inside your four walls

On the communications side of Chernoff Newman, we spend a great deal of time warning clients that a crisis could happen at any moment. We often encourage our clients to establish crisis plans to prepare for the inevitable. We will also spend a great deal of time helping them assess a probable crisis and what will fall more in the category of science fiction. However, in all these efforts, the one thing that remains true is that when looking at the interwoven external and internal causes of the crisis, inevitably, it is the internal failure that is likely the root cause of the event.

Prepare for internal and external crises

While it is easy to oversimplify the difference between an internal and external crisis, whether it be a rogue team member on social media or looming threat of a hurricane, it often falls on the organization’s management and how they adapt in a timely and adequate manner that defines whether the event becomes a crisis or a challenge.

The French crisis scholar Roux Dufort simply stated that a crisis is no more than the “accumulation of broken equilibriums” and the “ignorance of management.”

In short, if the leaders cannot distinguish, prepare or react to substantial changes, their days may be numbered.

Diagnose your company’s faults for a proactive crisis response

A leader must look in the mirror, recognize their individual and organizational faults, and apply them to the risks that face their firm. They must decide if they are prepared and ready to react in a timely manner that follows the tenets of a crisis response.

Identify your company’s allies and adversaries

Any leader can list off a group of organizations and individuals that would speak on their behalf if a crisis were to emerge. However, how many of those allies are prepared to defend you in the court of public opinion? Are they willing to do so if the moment should arise? Measuring your stakeholder’s opinion of you ahead of a crisis will make it far easier if the need should arise to call on their vocal support. Likewise, understanding your likely adversaries will better help you prepare for a response to any commentary should they choose to pile on during a crisis.

Invest in a response plan

Most crises are predictable. Whether the probability is likely or almost impossible, any organization can establish basic protocols to address the situation. It is understood in the field of crisis management that well-thought-out plans are often overlooked in the middle of the chaos. So, the best way to prevent that misfortune from happening is to create a plan, socialize it among leadership and employees, and practice it regularly.

Crisis communications when you need it

If you are interested in creating a proactive crisis plan, please complete this short form to Peter LaMotte, president of public relations.

Chernoff Newman has deep category experience in agriculture, food and beverage, education and workforce development, energy, economic development, financial/insurance, healthcare and infrastructure. We design integrated marketing and strategic communications that are impactful, thought-provoking and influential. We marry ingenuity with business know-how to influence beliefs and behaviors for brands, companies and their many stakeholders. We influence attitude and inclination. We influence opinion and outcomes. And when needed, we also influence to quell contention.