By Samuel Sanusi
2020 was the ultimate year of disruptions. Covid-19 changed the way we work, play and see the world. Many businesses could not function because of their inability to adapt to the sudden and incremental shifts in the environment never before seen in generations. Others operated far less than their capacities. Yet, some others are today in stronger positions than they were before the pandemic.
PWC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021 reveals why some organizations emerge stronger from major disruptions such as pandemics. Conducted between the 20th of August 2020 and the 25th of January 2021, sampling organizations in 73 countries and 29 industries, the survey looked at business community’s responses to the most disruptive crisis of our lifetime: Covid-19. Interestingly, when more than 70 percent of the respondents said that their businesses were negatively impacted by the crisis, 20 percent said the crisis had a positive impact on their organizations.
Why the difference?
According to the survey report, respondents from organizations in better places today were more likely to say that they had already given substantial attention to organizational resilience and planned in advance how to respond to significant business disruptions. The study reveals that they broadened their approach to risk and crisis management and apply a holistic strategy for organizational resilience by doing the following:
- “Thoroughly examining their responses to the crisis.
- Incorporating lessons learned into their long-term strategy.
- Actively building muscle memory to strengthen preparation and response capabilities.”
PWC’s Guidelines For Crisis Preparation
In the survey report, PWC offers three key guidelines to help organizations prepare better for crises based on its findings from the survey:
- “Design a strategic crisis response plan to mobilize swiftly, stabilize business and respond effectively to shockwaves of business disruption.
- Break down silos. An integrated programme is essential to executing successful crisis response and build resilience during peacetime.
- Prioritize and build organizational resilience, not just to succeed, but to survive.”
Key Lessons for PR Professionals
- Organizational resilience is now the focus of discerning organizations that want to survive in our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. And PR has a big role to play in helping them to achieve it.
- This means that emphasis is no longer on crisis management alone. It takes a composite of risk and business continuity management as well as effective strategic crisis response planning to build a strong capacity for organizational resilience.
- In a world where crisis is no longer an exception and cannot be completely avoided, organizations need a culture of resilience to be able to function at appropriate levels in any given situation.
- It is now the duty of PR to ensure organizations invest in a learning culture that facilitates problem-solving, build the skills, abilities and attitudes of their staff to function under pressure and adapt quickly to fast-changing situations in turbulent times.
- It is important to note that building internal resilience is not enough. The resilience of key partners such as suppliers and other key stakeholders is crucial to the overall resilience of an organization. PR professionals are expected to build bridges of understanding to win their support and keep them on the same page with the internal audience.
- PR bridges for organizational resilience are best built when you identify key stakeholders’ issues and address them in a way that is satisfactory to all parties involved. It is only when you understand their perceptions of the situation and communicate in words and actions in a way that meets their expectations that you can effectively engage them to achieve organizational resilience
- PR professionals that will do well in this VUCA environment will be those who understand the right framework for organizational resilience and how PR can contribute to its realization in an organization. The models advanced by International Consortium for Organizational Resilience or that of the British Standards (BS 25000) may be a good place to start.
Organizational resilience, as the PWC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021 has shown, is the key to the survival of any business in the fast-paced and troubled world of today. It is time for every PR professional, who wants to remain relevant, to learn and master how to use PR strategies and techniques to help organizations achieve resilience. There is no time to wait.