With harmful content and other crises potentially around every (social media) corner these days, brands and businesses need to be proactive when it comes to protecting their reputation and their customers. Seems like a no-brainer, but new research reveals this is not the case for many.

New data from UK-based social media safety firm Crisp and PR News finds that more than 26 percent of marketers and PR pros have crisis communication plans that haven’t been reviewed for over a year, and 38 percent only conduct a risk assessment of potential threats to their brand’s reputation about once per year—perhaps a fatal business flaw, because in today’s fast-moving landscape, a year-old crisis plan could likely be archaic.

“The extent to which many organizations aren’t ready for a crisis and not actively iterating on crisis plans is worrisome,” said Adam Hildreth, CEO of Crisp, in a news release. “We’re at a point in time when information spreads like wildfire and crises quickly spiral out of control. If a brand is going to survive today, it needs to take these threats seriously.”

At what point would you classify a PR issue as a PR crisis? (Check all that apply):

Crisis-plan crisis—nearly one in four companies don’t have an up-to-date plan

Key findings from the report include:

The CEO needs to be in the know during crises

Sixty-three percent of respondents classify a PR issue as a crisis when it needs to be on the CEO’s radar. And the top three most critical pieces of information the C-suite wants to know after a crisis are how the brand reputation was impacted, how it affected sponsors and stakeholders, and what the public sentiment was around it.

After a crisis, what are the 3 most critical pieces of information your C-suite wants to know? (Check all that apply):

Crisis-plan crisis—nearly one in four companies don’t have an up-to-date plan

The speed and maturity of solutions to monitor for crises aren’t enough

Approximately 67 percent of respondents say they’re manually monitoring for potential PR issues breaking online. However, nearly nine in 10 respondents say that if a PR issue with serious brand impact were to occur at 3 a.m., they would not have a service or team to wake them up.

If a crisis were to hit, many marketers wouldn’t be ready

While nearly 38 percent of respondents say they conduct a risk assessment about once a year, about one in 10 respondents say they never conduct one. And only one-third (32 percent) of respondents say they have an up-to-date crisis plan that’s continually updated.

Crisis-plan crisis—nearly one in four companies don’t have an up-to-date plan

Monitoring for crises isn’t easy

Respondents say their biggest issues in crisis management are reacting fast enough (54 percent), preparing the right response (52 percent) and having enough resources to adequately manage the crisis well (48 percent).

“While it can be challenging to continually update crisis plans and get buy-in from the C-suite on crisis monitoring strategies, the benefits of doing so are unmatched,” said Emma Monks, VP of Crisis Intelligence at Crisp, in the release. “Consumers want to know they’re safe to interact with the organizations they’re doing business with. Having these plans in place is a great way for brands to build that trust and maintain customer loyalty, which really pays off in the long run.”

Download the full report here.

To dive deeper into the current state of organizational preparedness for crisis monitoring and management, Crisp partnered with PR News to survey more than 400 marketing and PR professionals on responding to crises in a digital age.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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