Losses are best handled with a plan made in advance
People die. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. When you’re putting together crisis management plans you have to face a number of unhappy thoughts, and one is that you’ll need to carry on if you lose essential staff.
In an article for PRDaily, communications experts Tracy Benson and Beth Swanson offered up some advice to cover a CEO death that applies as well to anyone instrumental to an organization’s operation. Here’s their first tip:
1. Prepare for the situation before it happens.
Now is the time for rational thinking. Use it to develop and implement a crisis communications plan that covers the unexpected death of any executive whose loss could have a material impact on the company. This includes obtaining current, digital photos of your senior executives, or ensuring they are available through your website (high resolution because the alumni magazine will want it to be big). And, yes, write the press release and get it approved ahead of time if you can.
Few of us are comfortable confronting our own mortality, so this process may be trying for all involved. Remind your CEO that taking these steps now will enable the organization to grapple with its loss and return to productivity–and sustaining her legacy–sooner if the worst occurs.
Often, crises related to death or serious injury have more of an impact on operations than they should due to a lack of preparation. Take some time to consider the unpleasant realities, and make plans to cover operations so you can tend to the emotional side of things should the time come.
Erik & Jonathan Bernstein