Ever heard the expression, “Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready?” Well, September officially embodies that good advice in the form of National Preparedness Month, an annual observance dedicated to raising awareness about preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.
This national, annual public service campaign under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) goes hand-in-hand with the work that we at Yes& do daily to educate consumers about the importance of taking well-informed action, such as determining their flood risk, contacting their flood insurance agent/provider, and purchasing a flood insurance policy to protect the life they’ve built.
But being prepared is not exclusive to the disaster industry. Any marketing and communications professional would be lying if they said they don’t manage crisis communications routinely. Obviously, some crises are larger than others. Preparation is something that we as marketing and communications professionals need to factor into everything we do. In observance of National Preparedness Month, here are three ways that we can better stay prepared.
Have contingency plans in place.
No matter how big or small, have back-up plans BEFORE any potential crisis arises. Think through any potential, realistic scenarios of “what could go wrong.” That way, if something does go wrong, there’s a standard operating procedure and folks aren’t figuring out what to do as things are unfolding.
When the going gets tough, don’t panic.
Panic incites chaos. Any good leader will tell you that behaving calmly and swiftly in a crisis will help alleviate stress and enhance the potential performance of the colleagues you’re working with. Your Internet goes down, the dog is barking right when you’re ready to deliver a speech, your child needs to be picked up unexpectedly from school... Remember, if the general doesn’t panic, the troops don’t panic.
Be perceptive and use experience as a guide.
It can’t be stated enough how important it is to be observant. If an event went sideways last year and the same event is being planned this year, make sure to surface what went wrong and communicate how to remedy any potential pitfalls going forward. Also, don’t be afraid to raise any potential concerns—others may not have considered them.
In observance of National Preparedness Month, what better time to begin curating plans within your organization to prepare for anything unexpected? In the words of Stephen King, “There’s no harm in hoping for the best, as long as you’re prepared for the worst.”