Friday, October 19, 2007

57% of B2B Marketers Lack Crisis Plan

The October issue of BtoB magazine reports a disturbing figure. BtoB found that 57% of marketing executives report not having a crisis plan. What’s more 53% report having experienced a business crisis that resulted in negative news coverage, declining sales or reduced profitability.

At first blush these numbers don’t seem to jive. Nearly an identical number of executives report having faced a crisis, but the same amount choose not to plan for it. But these figures are completely reflective of a few common misconceptions surrounding crisis preparedness:

  • It won’t happen to my company
  • What’s the big deal, if something comes up, we can wing it
  • I don’t want to spend resources on something we may never need

All of this thinking in flawed, but it is so commonplace. I’ve developed a few crisis plans in my day, but I’ve not developed so many more plans because of the reasons above.

I have to agree with a statement made in the BtoB article by Peter Kapcio, director of reputation management services at Eric Mower and Associates (the company co-sponsored the study with BtoB). Kapcio says, “It’s downright professionally irresponsible when b-to-b marcom people allow their companies to operate unprepared.”

Whether using an agency to handle crisis planning or making it an internal initiative, companies NEED to make the time to develop some sort of plan. And it doesn’t have to be a 200 page document, just start putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Maybe start with putting down the 5 things that keep you up at night and your gut instinct of how to handle them. Then walk away. Come back the next day and re-read what you wrote from the perspective of your direct supervisor, the CEO, CFO and legal counsel. Would they agree with this?

My bet is these four people wouldn’t fully agree with each other. The CEO is most focused on the company’s business objectives, the CFO is concerned about financing and stock price, and legal needs to make sure anything that is said or done will not result in jail time. Each person brings a different priority and expertise, and each needs to be considered when handling a crisis.

If a crisis happens it will likely turn your world on its head, at least for a little while – the littler the better. But having an up-to-date plan in place will give you a starting place, it will be well thought out and it might just save your job, much less your company.

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