Editorial: Protect yourself from a PR crisis

Nervous flyers sometimes comfort themselves by clutching their travel insurance policies like a talisman to ward off calamity. But anyone who has studied the morbid details of the cover will have been struck - not just by the diversity of injuries and disasters that could befall them during their two weeks in the sun - but by the inadequacy of the money promised for lost eyes, limbs and so on as a replacement for the items concerned.

Nervous flyers sometimes comfort themselves by clutching their

travel insurance policies like a talisman to ward off calamity. But

anyone who has studied the morbid details of the cover will have been

struck - not just by the diversity of injuries and disasters that could

befall them during their two weeks in the sun - but by the inadequacy of

the money promised for lost eyes, limbs and so on as a replacement for

the items concerned.



When it comes to a business, it is clearly vital to anticipate the risks

- such as fire and theft - that could damage it physically, and it would

unthinkable not to have insurance cover to fall back on in such an

emergency.



Public relations crises represent a less obvious financial risk but can

be equally damaging to an organisation. So the comfort of having crisis

communications support included as a benefit on your insurance policy is

undeniably appealing. And if insurance company St Paul International’s

initiative to provide professional crisis support to NHS Trusts as part

of its policy cover draws attention to the need for proper crisis

management handling, then it is very welcome indeed.



The only danger is if policy holders assume that this is the only step

they need to take to protect themselves. It is not - any more than

having fire insurance means it is safe to continue smoking near petrol

tanks.



While having a team of PR firefighters on hand to help you through the

first 48 hours of a breaking crisis is comforting, it is far better to

avoid the need to call them out in the first place. The honest answer to

the crisis-hit executive’s plaintive cry of ’How do I get out of this

one?’ is often: ’Well, I wouldn’t have started from here if I were

you’.



Every organisation - without exception - faces a clutch of issues and

contingencies which could, in certain circumstances, develop into a full

blown, bouncing off the walls crisis. Managing and monitoring those

issues can often prevent them from doing so.



No matter how rapid the response times of St Paul’s two chosen

consultancies - which are covering over 220 NHS Trusts between them - it

would be foolhardy to imagine that paying the premium promptly is the

only crisis preparation those Trusts will need.



At the very least, they should have a tried and tested plan for crisis

PR handling in place to tide them over until the cavalry arrives. More

importantly - and perhaps even as a condition of their insurance - they

should take some preventive public relations medicine of their own.



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