Companies are not testing crisis preparedness - poll

More than half of FTSE 250 companies have failed to trial their crisis communications procedures since the 11 September attacks in the US, research revealed this week.

A survey of FTSE 250 companies with more than 500 employees shows that while 94 per cent of British firms rate crisis preparedness as a corporate priority, 56 per cent admitted they had not tested their procedures since 11 September. Thirty per cent said they have never tested their crisis comms capability.

The survey, conducted by research company IPSOS for Edelman PR Worldwide, reveals that many firms have been prompted to review their crisis communications since terrorist attacks, with 48 per cent auditing in the past six months.

But 20 per cent of respondents said they have never completed a comprehensive crisis comms review.

In terms of online crisis comms capabilities, only 27 per cent of UK companies surveyed said they had ever successfully used their firm's website as a crisis communications channel.

Only 33 per cent have posted their crisis procedures or manuals online or on intranets.

The research was commissioned to launch Edelman London's dedicated crisis and issues management unit, led by head of international crisis management Mike Seymour, London deputy MD Stuart Smith and Edelman Interactive Solutions MD Chris Dickens.

'People are not as prepared as they need to be,' said Seymour. 'The majority of their plans are not tested and validated and they are not making the best use of technology.'

He added that many companies fail to integrate their crisis communications with crisis business plans.

The unit will draw on the resources and specialist teams within Edelman, managed from London, but including the group's network of international offices.

Alongside traditional crisis comms and issues management, the team will provide online advice on communications with stakeholders, issues monitoring, HTML alerts and issues management intranets.

- Edelman this week announced the appointment of John Haschak as chairman of its network of regional PR affiliates, covering the south- east, south-west and Wales, Midlands, East Anglia, north- west, north-east, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Haschak is MD of Norwich-based Partnership Plus, one of the 11 agencies signed up to the network.

Leader, p8.

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