Friday, March 12, 2010

Will You Be In The Clouds When Crisis Strikes?

A True Story

She was the public relations manager for a multi-state technology company and had just settled into her seat on the airplane for a quiet flight back to home base. She had cleared all her voicemail messages before boarding and felt all was well.

When she landed four hours later and turned on her cell phone, her voicemail had blown up while in flight. The CEO’s secretary left three messages. There was a message from a federal agency media affairs staffer. A message from a client’s public relations manager on the opposite coast. A desperate plea from a PR colleague who often assisted with media matters. And five media calls, including one from an Associated Press bureau chief and one from a major U.S. daily newspaper.

By the time she triaged those calls from an airport phone booth during a 40-minute layover, the story of the company’s unfortunate event was being filed by the Associated Press and had traveled around the globe in less than an hour. For three solid months, she did nothing else but manage the crisis communications for this event. It took her company more than a year to get back to normal and cost the company many hundreds of thousands of dollars in man hours, legal fees and fines.

The Bad News: Regardless of size, no business is immune to a crisis.

What’s your plan?