In recent days, the Detroit Regional Chamber convened a group of business people who were like many in all communities of all sizes across the country.
They understand that for their businesses, a crisis is inevitable. But unlike most business people, this group wanted to start thinking about it and acting, right away. I had the privilege of representing my Tanner Friedman colleagues on a panel at the half-day event and two takeaways really stand out.
First, an important lesson, learned over years of experience in working with clients on communications before adverse events, in the midst of them and then recovering from them, was on display on the event stage. I was flanked by an employment attorney, an insurance company representative and a employee assistance program provider. It showed the audience that lawyers nor PR types nor insurance companies nor any outside help should work alone for a client in times of crisis. For that matter, we all stressed, crisis management is not a DIY task. Outside perspective can make all the difference. But when it’s time for that to happen, it should be with a team of experienced professionals, working cohesively.
Also, while attorneys like to help clients prepare with policies and procedures, that’s not enough. Sure, it’s good business. But building relationships is good business too. In recent years, savvy organizations have sought relationships with our firm, so they are in place when they are needed for some sort of adversity. That’s just smart. In addition to a written plan, there’s a contingency agreement in effect so we can be “on call” and offer communications help. Organizations realize that in this era of social media, bad news travels faster than ever. That’s part of why it’s more important than ever to have relationships at the ready.
One of the biggest crisis challenges we face is when companies wait too long to admit that they’re in a crisis. The takeaways from this recent event can help that from happening to you.