Traditionally the focus of Crisis Communications has been on the RESPONSE to a known crisis. In the air transport and aircraft manufacturing sectors, these tend to be thought of as aircraft and industrial accidents and incidents with fatalities and injured victims.
For many organisations, this tunnel vision has created a blind-spot, leaving them scrambling to respond effectively when faced with crises relating to ethics, compliance and white-collar crime.
Similarly, if we agree the primary objective of Crisis Communications is to protect the company’s reputation (as part of the wider crisis response mandate to enable the company to continue operating and trading), then there must also be strong case for including Crisis Communications in an upstream role as part of a corporate risk identification and assessment team.
In such a team, the Crisis Communications representative would be able to give guidance on the likely outcomes of various actions (or inactions) in response to identified risks which have the potential to escalate and become crises or threats to a company's reputation, business continuity and survival.
For effective crisis risk identification, the company should have a clearly explained and secure reporting process which empowers and encourages all of its employees to flag-up any events, incidents, accidents, actions or occurrences which might be regarded as a crisis, or with the potential to become one. Such a system must provide sufficient guarantees and protection from retaliation, penalty, intimidation and from being ostracised by their superiors and colleagues.