It was that serendipitous moment where all the stars aligned . Not only did we help , but the next day , the president of the company called to say that not only had their stock price not gone down that day , it had actually gone up . That was my [ realization that ] I could have a greater purpose in the world . There ’ s something that I can bring to the world that I think is really meaningful and really important .
P : One review of your book , Crisis Ready , described it as “ dismantling crisis clichés .” What clichés or assumptions about crisis management do you find are most persistent among leaders ? A : There are two things that come to mind . The first is , if I tell somebody that I do crisis management , one of the things I ’ m most often met with is , “ Oh , so you do PR .”
PR is an aspect of crisis management , of being crisisready , but that ’ s not what crisis management is . A lot of people think this baseline thought that crisis management is about PR and how , if you have a crisis over here , do you divert attention over here . That ’ s definitely a perception I ’ ve been trying to help people move away from .
The other piece goes back to checking off a box or having a line item on your business strategy or among your business objectives for the year : “ We ’ re going to have a crisis management plan , and we ’ re going to task the PR person to go do this , then we ’ re going to check off this box , and in a crisis , we ’ ll be ready . It doesn ’ t happen like that , and it can ’ t happen like that . Anybody who had any semblance of that at the start of COVID quickly learned how much that doesn ’ t work , [ but ] that approach is so common . It ’ s that perception of ,“ We have a crisis management plan . We don ’ t know what that means , but it ’ s this document that sits somewhere and it will guide us .” It ’ s the worst approach . I mean , it ’ s one notch above not having anything , but it ’ s not any better than that .
P : What aspects of crisis planning and management do you find leaders most surprised to learn about or challenging to accept ? A : The first answer is the cultural approach . I really look at it like , to be crisis ready , do you work every day to embed a crisis-ready culture ? It ’ s really a mindset and skillset that permeates throughout the organization . It ’ s the way in which you empower and train your teams to be equipped with those capabilities . When people don ’ t realize that , and then you start talking to them about what this means and the opportunities it presents and provides , they start going , “ Oh that resonates ,” but [ they also say ], “ What are you talking about ? I ’ ve never heard about that before .”
But the other piece is , once they start learning about it and doing it , what I love to see is how they realize that
“… do you work every day to embed a crisis-ready culture ? It ’ s really a mindset and skillset that permeates throughout the organization .”
MAY / JUNE 2022 • PULSE 21