Be a Boy Scout

by Roger Pynn

On page 54 of the Boy Scout Handbook is the explanation of why “Be Prepared” is the organization’s motto, in which Scouting’s founder Robert Baden-Powell said you had to be prepared “for any old thing.”

I was never into Scouting, but this month is National Preparedness Month and I’ve interestingly found myself talking to three different clients about crisis communications planning … reminding me that while a crisis communications plan can never cover every old thing it must be so flexible that the plan’s principles can be applied to any situation.

One of those discussions was with a prospective client who at first seemed to have confused a crisis communications plan with an operational plan for managing a crisis, but then it became clear he was confused by our insistence that the communications planning include physical assessment of the company’s property.

“Why would that matter … and do you actually have people on your staff who are experts in that field?”

Good question.  The answer was “No, we’re not facilities experts, but we certainly look at points where your facilities have the potential to provide a window into a crisis and how that could be exploited by outside interests … or serve as a potentially dangerous gathering spot for curiosity seekers in a crisis.  And, you have to understand that your stakeholders are concerned and you’ll need a manageable window to help the news media tell the story in a safe manner.”

No organization should exist without a crisis communications plan.  The cost of preparation is cheap insurance.

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