Crisis Communications 101: The global nature of risks and how to spot them

3.10.23 / 4 min read

Handling a crisis and mitigating its impact is part of the communications job spec. Whether the issue arises from an internal problem or from outside the organization, a robust crisis comms strategy can help protect reputation. 

But the increasingly global nature of risks leaves communicators on the back foot. Comms teams need to be aware of the many factors that affect corporate reputation, developing a radar for risks. Utilizing AI offers an opportunity to get ahead of these emerging issues, by cutting the time it takes to find relevant coverage and offering an instant view of stories from across the globe.

Why communicators should monitor for risks

Staying on top of the avenues for change means comms teams can inform decision makers within the business of potential risks as soon as they arise. This could be issues in the supply chain, such as political instability or human rights abuses in suppliers, shifts in consumer behavior, or regulations in other corners of the world with the ability to affect how an organization operates. 

Stuart Thomson, Head of Public Affairs at BDB Pitmans, says: “There is an increasing need to look beyond borders and think about what is happening elsewhere, before it’s on your doorstep. The implications for reputation and operations could be enormous. Without taking the time to look elsewhere, we could be missing our next big challenge.”

A practical guide to risk spotting

But when it comes to developing a risk radar, where should communicators start? There are some key questions that an AI-powered platform can help answer:

  • What are the rising issues and opportunities our business needs to be aware of? 
  • Who are the influential voices in our space and how are they affecting us and the industry?
  • What questions are our customers trying to answer and are we well placed to be part of the solution?

A proactive approach requires real-time alerts to flag any negative events happening in your environment. These should be based on searches for the topics that are important to the business and using AI will help save time sifting through irrelevant coverage. 

To highlight unknown risks, it’s worth including competitors or topics an organization and its stakeholders have a direct interest in – particularly when narrowing down to negative coverage. For example looking outside a company’s geographic area and discovering upcoming regulation, or a search on a supplier highlighting a crisis that will affect their ability to do business.

The second approach requires some intelligence gathering. Analyzing the coverage of your business, competitors, suppliers and other stakeholders, such as lawmakers, may identify recurring topics that were previously not on your radar. By understanding these areas as they emerge, any risk can be identified more quickly and any damage mitigated.

In an increasingly connected world, where risks in one sphere can impact another, staying one step ahead is difficult with legacy tools and methods. But with the power of AI to highlight both known and unknown risks, communciators can spot risks coming and inform decision makers within the business – thereby taking on a more strategic role.

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