Crisis Planning: What Comes Before Blood on the Floor

The Shark Attack photo by Kelsey Sparkle Rakes

My former colleagues at Standing Partnership have written some really good content on advising clients in a crisis. I particularly like Nick Sargent’s recent post providing tips for an effective crisis response video.

Another Standing alum, Mistie Thompson ┬áhas a saying about crisis work; it’s not a crisis unless there’s blood on the floor (or in the water, in the case of a shark attack).

Real PR professionals, the down in the ditches, get your hands dirty communicators love a good crisis; the messier the better. When Mistie talked about blood on the floor, it was simply that any other crisis was a cake walk; that the challenge of a situation where lives were at risk was the kind of communications challenge that really got our hearts pumping, our minds working overtime and our fingers flying across keyboards, crafting the right messages to alert, reassure and ultimately, restore order and reputations.

I freaking LOVE a good crisis.

That isn’t to say that I wish crisis situations on any client, ever . . . but when they do happen (and they will) the adrenaline rush coupled with my desire to think and move fast and accurately is the ultimate communications experience. It’s the PR person’s version of base jumping.

Crisis recovery doesn’t happen easily without prior planning; decisions can be made before any alarms sound. Messaging can be created well in advance of disaster. The communication contacts, stream and process can, and should be mapped in these, the quiet, uneventful days before the storm. Sure, it’s the less glamorous, decidedly less fun aspect of crisis communications, but seasoned professionals know that having these tools in place are what make the rush worthwhile. The planning process is the safety harness, the wire cage, the helmet and the flak jacket of public relations; critical for success, not to be neglected and the difference between business life and death when the blood hits the floor.

One Comment

  • KenMueller says:

    I think this is in many ways what journalists go through. As a former reporter, I would never wish ill on anyone, but the adrenaline sure got flowing when a great story, particularly a crisis, came my way. Even if it meant getting called out of bed at 3a.m. to head out to cover the story. And things work out best when you are ready for the things you can’t be ready for.