My mom used to point out that I have been through every type of natural disaster except a tsunami. Wildfires and snow storms were a regular occurrence growing up in the Canadian north. My college education was ended by a historic flood. I’ve been through earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.
I’m not keen about rounding out the list but I’ve learned some very important lessons that I carry with me today and implement both personally and professionally. It’s likely why I have chosen crisis preparedness as a profession.
These situations have shown me the need to know exactly what matters before the moment so I know what to do in the moment with the speed that protects what I value most.
Like me, most businesses know how to prepare for natural disasters and man-made disasters like manufacturing accidents. But, knowing how fast these types of events move, it surprises me that few organizations prepare for another fast moving kind of risk: social risk.
Treat your reputation as an asset
If you make a widget, you have systems and processes in place to warn you about a looming crisis in the widget making factory because the factory and the widgets it produces are valuable. You know you have to address any crisis in the factory very quickly, or you will lose a lot of value. But here is the thing: your reputation is valuable, too.
So why wouldn’t you invest in preparing to respond just as quickly to a threat to your reputation?
Social risk crises can develop fast – some become viral in hours as opposed to days. If you don’t see it coming, don’t have a plan and don’t know what you stand for, you could be knocked off your game for weeks or even months. It could cost you millions of dollars in damage control. It could make you known as “that company” for years.
Why would you risk that?
Speed (as always) is key
Last week, I began describing the ingredients for high-level social risk preparedness by discussing clarity. Well, clarity by itself is a good start, but it’s better when combined with speed. At Kith, we know that speed is the key differentiator between good and great crisis response.
Speed in crisis means quickly being able to see what is coming towards you and being ready to respond quickly. With social risk, seeing around corners and being ready is grounded in clarity and elevated by speed.
If you know who you are, you can detect the issues that will land on your doorstep before they arrive. Through social listening, good stakeholder relationships and understanding the social risk landscape and how it impacts you, you will be better able to identify the most impactful social risks before they have an impact on your reputation.
Once you identify the risks, you can deploy your well-honed, well-tuned and fast-acting response plan that has been tested and exercised. It’s the holy grail of crisis preparedness.
Social risk is out there. It’s happening. It can come for you. Be ready for it.