Gym membership; ice cream maker; 750-piece socket set….we all invest in things we never use from time to time. But there is one thing that every business should invest in with the hope that they never need to use it and that’s a crisis comms plan.

And it’s particularly sound advice for any company involved in the construction sector.  Despite the massive improvements made in health and safety best practice over the past couple of decades, construction still accounts for more work-related accidents than any other sector.

What’s more, risk to your reputation is not only associated with activities on site. Wherever you sit in the supply chain, poor product performance, supply challenges, design issues or commercial sensitivities can all have a negative impact on your business. And that’s before we even consider the wider reputational hazards, which could include anything from financial irregularities and boardroom scandals to comments posted by disgruntled former employees on social media or your offices forming the backdrop to front page crime scene images.

If we appear to be painting a bleak picture here, it’s not because we’re scaremongering; far from it. Our business is building reputations and like anything in the built environment, longevity is all about maintenance. A crisis comms plan is like insurance: it can’t prevent bad things happening but it can help to minimise the impact. Unlike insurance, however, most companies don’t see crisis comms as a safeguard that should be put in place in advance of need, instead they expect to be able to firefight on the hoof. Or, indeed, reputational risk doesn’t occur to them at all, which is even worse.

In fact, companies’ reputations are at greater risk now than they ever have been. Where once only print and broadcast media were the threat, now information and images are shareable instantly and globally over social media and the internet. This not only increases the potential exposure of your reputation in the face of bad news, but also means you have more channels to manage, less opportunity to lie low and hope for it all to blow over and more responsibility to engage with stakeholders.

Of course, you cannot anticipate every potential ‘crisis’; some hazards are obvious but there’s plenty of curved balls you could never see coming. A crisis plan is not about having the perfect response to every scenario but about having your processes in place. Who will be your spokesperson? Who will stand in for them if they’re away? Who will brief your staff and how? Who will manage your social channels? Who will advise you on a tailored response?

These are all ducks you can have lined up ready to swim rather than sink if bad news breaks. So if you’ve spent time and resources building your reputation, perhaps you should consider what you need to do to protect it?

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