Sunday, January 01, 2006

Crisis Madness 

An individual I know is part of emergency protection forces responding to California flooding that occurred over the weekend and might be happening again. This person told me a story that is an example of why PR practitioners should plan and rehearse well in advance of anything that might go wrong.

This person was ordered to compile a list of phone numbers for emergency responders and to deliver the list to bosses in overall charge of response. This person went to the HR department and requested phone numbers on individuals' personnel records. The HR department refused to give out the numbers or to let the individual see the records to gather them. Why? Personnel records are private. But there is an emergency, this person said. Makes no difference, the HR department replied. So, on the last day before the New Year holiday when nearly everyone had already left the department, this individual had to scramble about and find phone numbers by asking people directly. Some objected to the query because they said they had their phone numbers in their personnel records, and they could be gathered there. This individual had to respond that phone numbers couldn't be gathered there because the HR department wouldn't allow it. Needless to say, the individual did not get all phone numbers on the emergency call list.

Aside from the insanity of the HR department, this kind of glitch can sink a crisis response. Something simple and seemingly easy to do turns out to be slow or nearly impossible to get done. This is why crisis response experts order clients to rehearse regularly. It is the only way one finds little things that sink big efforts.

If you are in charge of a crisis response plan, when did you last rehearse it? If it has been more than a year, schedule a run-through soon. You'll be surprised by what you find. Cell phone numbers will have changed, and you weren't told. People will have moved from one position to another, and you weren't told. The objective of the crisis response might have changed, and you weren't told. Find out before a holiday weekend when a disaster is unfolding, and you are left without a plan.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?