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Just Like the Scouts: Be Prepared.

October 9, 2020

In the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook, the motto of “be prepared” was explained this way: “A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency.”

The same holds true today, perhaps more than ever.

While we’re not fighting in the American or French Revolution, 2020 has presented significant personal and business challenges to our cushy, modern lives. Companies and individuals can’t downplay preparedness in a year when we’ve seen T.P. and bread shortages.

The Coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll and we’re not through it yet. It’s devastating and forcing all of us to think through critical, personal choices to help protect our health and those we love and work alongside.

September was National Preparedness Month. Recognized to promote family and community disaster planning throughout the month and the rest of the year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security devotes a full 30 days to providing many helpful resources that empower us to individually, and within our communities, take ownership of preparing for worst case scenarios. But just because September is over, don’t let that stop you from keeping preparedness top of mind.

Instead of preparing for natural or person-made disasters, focus on preparing your business to survive in these ever-changing times and beyond.

When you’re talking about protecting your good name and reputation, it’s imperative to have a solid crisis management strategy in place.  National Preparedness Month devotes each of the four weeks in September to a critical component of disaster preparedness. You can break down your business preparedness in a similar way. Not sure where to start? Here are some of the most critical components of crisis communication preparedness for your business:

  1. Do you have a team that, like the scouts, are not only ready and willing to serve but know how to do the job well? Your team needs to be prepared to help you navigate difficult situations and position you for long-term success with counsel to support situational analysis, messaging, delivery strategy, and more.
  2. Have a well-researched and well-practiced crisis communications strategy that covers all manner of situations. Conduct testing and training and adapt your strategy based on those results. And be prepared to pivot your strategy in response to the natural ebbs and flows of the current situation as well as unexpected developments. (Pivoting strategy doesn’t mean additional stress and panicked work. Your team who knows how to do their job well will have planned for this.)
  3. Examine and strengthen critical relationships, including the media, employees, and customers. Notice this component doesn’t say “identify” or “create” these relationships. If you’re working with a group of communication experts, they have these relationships and have worked with you to either create, maintain, or strengthen your organization’s key relationships.
  4. Celebrate short-term wins. The longer a crisis prevails (lookin’ at you, COVID-19), the easier it will be for you, your employees, and stakeholders to feel defeated. Make the time to recognize short-term success. Sharing these will increase confidence and boost morale.
  5. Always tell the truth. When a crisis strikes, your most potent tool is your voice. People will be looking at you and paying close attention to everything you say. (If you’re working with a reliable team, you will never be alone. Proper crisis planning has you prepared with key messages, media and speaker training, and more.) People support organizations that they trust—that they believe in. Be transparent and authentic. If you or your organization is at fault, admit it. Admitting fault isn’t easy, but it’s a sign of strength, integrity, and true leadership that will help you and your organization recover faster. The truth really will set you free.

You can learn a lot from a scout. How do we know so much about the scouts and this motto? Not only are some members of Van Eperen’s PR and crisis planning experts scouts themselves (or parents of scouts), but we’re proud to be the agency of record for Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. We are firm believers of the scouting motto of “Be Prepared.” This approach allows us to better protect communities and corporations by developing crisis communication plans and ensuring our clients know the steps to take during crises, including pandemics.

For us, helping businesses success (in both good and challenging times) is a badge of honor. Contact us today. No smoke signals needed.

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301-836-1516 x1

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