Reports of 12 dead, 11 injured at Charlie Hebdo in Paris stream across media. Worlds apart from one another, statements are issued from President Obama to Salman Rushdie to the Council on American-Islamic Relations and American Jewish Committee. The speed of issuing these statements indicate anticipation and preparation for functioning in a world that lives within a 24-7-365 news cycle.
The weight of a connected world crushes when unprepared. The reach of this world, at times, drags entities onto the world stage. Guilt by association, whether deserved or not, has a chilling effect if not managed properly. Suppliers, financiers, employees, regulators, politicians and customers may feel the heat from such a chill. One or all of these entities pulling back from your organization will impact your agenda and ability to operate.
Certainly these organizations above were not crafting statements from a blank page after learning of the Paris attacks from media reports. A simple first step to prepare your organization for the unforeseen is to look at the most likely incidents that may draw unwanted attention. Craft brief statements in advance. Keep these statements updated at least quarterly. Finally, executive leadership must have ready access to these pre-approved statements. With a little customization to address a specific incident, your organization is well positioned to shape the narrative as initial reports come out about a crisis. This can set the tone of your positions on a specific issue before outside influencers can shape it for you.
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