Planning for when the unpredictable strikes

They say the best time to deal with a crisis is when there is no crisis. Which is why developing a robust crisis and issues communication plan is vital to businesses navigating these already challenging times.

In our latest Communication for business leaders seminar brought to you in partnership with CCIQ, Rowland’s Chief Operating Officer Fiona Sperou and General Manager Jo Osborne share their insights on how to proactively prepare for potential issues and crises before an issue strikes.

What should organisations consider when preparing to deal with issues and crises?

  1. Preparation is key

With the proliferation of online news and citizenship journalism, word on an organisational incident can spread in the blink of an eye — diminishing the luxury of management teams being able to sit down and think about how they might respond. Being prepared with a plan means some of the pre-thinking has been completed without the pressure of an unfolding issue, helping to guide your decisions in a logical and considered manner.

  1. The court of public opinion can destroy your reputation faster than the court of law

Many types of issues and crises — think: safety incident, fatality, or major environmental mishap — will almost certainly be subject to an element of investigation by a regulatory body, and could potentially result in a law suit further down the track. But what is important to consider is that the court of public opinion will be in order almost immediately after the events take place, meaning appropriate communication with your stakeholders must also be a number one priority.

  1. Crisis and issues management is a two-pronged approach

During a crisis or issue, organisations must consider two types of responses — the operational and the communication response — and they must run parallel. For example, if a piece of machinery causes a workplace injury, the responding business may send that machinery for service or investigation (operational), but they must also inform stakeholders on the action they are taking to rectify the issue (communication).

During the development of an issues and crisis communication plan, Rowland adopts a proprietary SMART methodology to managing incidents:

  • Stand-up — identify your issue/crisis team
  • Map — identify and map your stakeholders
  • Articulate — articulate your response (develop your key messages and narrative)
  • Respond — reach your stakeholders using the most effective channels
  • Transition — shift to recovery.


Find more information on Rowland’s reputation and issues management services here.