September 11, 2001 is a day most in generation Z and any older generations will never forget. A drone attack on the world’s largest oil refinery in Saudi Arabia just a few days after this year’s 9/11 memorial punctuated the possibility of even more crises to come.
What Does That Prove?
The latest drone attack proved that we are even more vulnerable than ever. The possibility of a similar kind of an attack being carried out anywhere else in the world instantly became very real. Any facility, small or large, could be vulnerable to attack, from anywhere in the world. Large military installations and important places for resources like electric power plants and freshwater pumping stations have security guards, cameras, and security fences. Radar detects any aircraft, rockets or missiles.
And though drones are actually about 170 years old, they only became more sophisticated and useful to the military this century. Now, they are more powerful, lighter, and undetectable. While it’s true that there’s very little one can do to prevent this type of incident from occurring. However, there are a number of things a company can plan in advance in the event of a terrorist attack, domestic or foreign, on its facilities.
So, What’s The Problem?
The problem is that senior management is often reluctant to spend funds for something that will take time for something the odds say will likely never occur. Add to that the fact that many younger MBA graduates believe they have the ability to handle any kind of crisis.
How Do We Convince Them?
Since 9/11, there’s been a trend to concentrate more on readiness rather than crisis management and communication. Like the fire drills many company employees currently participate in active shooter drills now instruct them how to respond and react if someone opens fire in their facility. Many companies now conduct these drills because training employees for a possible active shooter sounds more realistic and practical, particularly in light of several recent events. It’s probably more in the forefront of most employees minds, as well.
The $64 million dollar question to bring to senior management when selling them on the validity of crisis management and communication is, “What event or events, regardless of the likelihood, could occur today that would likely result in the company either having to shut down or be seriously impaired for a long time?”
Bring up examples for them to ponder. For example, more than 200 customers and employees of a nationwide food chain that promoted itself as healthy contracted norovirus, presumably from an infected employee. Shortly after that, 64 customers at 22 locations became ill from salmonella-tainted tomatoes. Another incident saw 53 customers in nine states fall ill with E.coli and have to be hospitalized.
There were more incidents involving the same company which had 1,900 locations at the time. The company shut down 43 locations after one outbreak. Prior to all these incidents, the company’s stock prices were at an all-time high. This was in 2015. Some analysts are predicting that the company’s stock may equal its 2015 high by end of this year in spite of yet another big dip last year.
This is the kind of example to bring to senior management to get the approval of well-designed crisis management and communication plan. Having one in place won’t prevent the crisis from occurring but can shorten the recovery time.