Wednesday 2 April 2014

When stuff hits the fan

Your business is doing well and then the BBC drops a bombshell. It announces that you as a retailer sold unsafe mattresses and sofas that were not treated with fire retardant chemicals that are necessary by law. Your spokesman says:

"We take the safety of our customers very seriously".


A charity is exposed for paying £ 70,000 to its chief executive, as part of his renumeration package, for his children’s school fees. A spokesman for the charity justified the package worth over £ 200,000 per year as a reflection on "the complexity and responsibility of his role".

A financial service company’s wrongdoings are leaked to the press, resulting in a sharp drop in its share price. If it made an explanation or excuse, I missed it.

All these reactions were wrong and suggest they were not prepared for these events to occur.

Keynes once remarked on the need for preparedness because: "There is always enduring uncertainty"

Murphy’s law states that if something can go wrong, it probably will. Pray for it not happening but prepare for the worst.

Every organisation should have a crisis management programme in place. One that is carefully thought through, researched and rehearsed. It involves a continuous process of risk assessment and timely communication through the media channels. This means having a professional team in place prepared for if and when something goes wrong.

Then they will not make up crass statements to the press, but rather apologise, organise collection and possible remuneration, talk of the steps taken to help prevent a recurrence and seek to salvage damaged reputations.

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