I get asked this question often: “How can I convince management that it’s in our best interest to invest in a crisis plan?”
It’s hard to be the middle person, especially when you see the value in something and know it would be in the organization’s best interest, but have an uphill battle in trying to help upper management see that same value. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some strategies to consider.
The two best ways to sell upper management on a crisis plan
1) Prepare a presentation
Presenting your case properly takes thought and strategy. Don’t just pitch the idea quickly during your weekly meeting. If you really want to peak interest and get buy-in, you’ll want to prepare a presentation that speaks their language and appeals to their biggest concerns. For this, your presentation should:
- Scare them a little: Highlight the most pertinent risks that threaten your organization, as well as the damaging impact these risks can have on the organization’s reputation and bottom line.
- Provide them with a solution: Now that you’ve got their attention, let them know that you’ve thought of a solution to the problem. What is a crisis plan, how does it work and why is it the answer?
- Be relatable and realistic: Provide detailed case studies on competitors and other organizations that have suffered long-term repercussions due to the mismanagement of a crisis (focus on relatable crises and industries). Showcase what they did wrong, why, what the repercussions have been, and how being prepared could help your team better manage a similar crisis.
- What’s in it for them? Outline the benefits vs. the risk. What are the benefits of being prepared vs. the risk of not being prepared? What are the benefits of investing in a plan vs. the risk of not investing in a plan? Don’t expect them to read between the lines, point these out.
- Use facts and logic: Include statistics and studies that help reinforce your points.
- Answer their questions: Preferably, before they have the opportunity to ask them. This includes what a realistic budget and timeframe might look like; how much work would this demand from them; what your role will be in this process; etc.
- Make their life simple: Show initiative by including a short list of specialized professionals who could help you accomplish these goals. Be sure to outline what makes these professionals worth the investment and how they are better suited for your team than their competitors (in other words, what makes them special?)
2) Put them through a simulation
In my experience, a crisis simulation is a great way to:
- Test your crisis team, plan and skills.
- Determine areas of weakness (and strength) to focus on improving.
- Provide a realistic glimpse at what is involved with managing a crisis in this real-time and connected world.
- Show executives, firsthand, that they may not be as prepared as they think, as well as the real value in preparing for a crisis in advance.
If you’re dealing with a management team that really can’t be convinced of the value of investing in a crisis plan – or one that just doesn’t know where to begin – the best solution is to put them to the test. The right crisis simulation will let them experience the realities of a crisis firsthand and determine just how prepared you actually are for those worst case scenarios. A good crisis simulation will do your convincing for you!
If this is a strategy you’d like to take, feel free to download and use this informational package on our crisis simulations.
It’s all about the right approach
If you’re interested in getting upper management on board to planning and preparing for a crisis, then they’re lucky to have you. In order to win them over and successfully pitch the concept, in my experience, it’s all about knowing your audience and finding the right approach. Are they fact-based and very logical? Do they like to look at what others are doing? Do they have too much on their plate so would feel overwhelmed at the idea of adding another big task? Are they oblivious to the organization’s vulnerabilities and today’s crisis realities?
Understand who you’re pitching to, what appeals to them, as well as what their reasoning or issues against such an important task might be. Go to the meeting prepared with answers to their questions (the ones you can foresee and the one’s you can imagine), facts, studies and case studies to back you up, and of course, the answer to the all-important question: “what’s in it for them?”
Do this and you’ll strengthen your chances at leaving the meeting with a set of to-do’s and a second meeting to discuss further. If you need help preparing this pitch, or would like to see a demo of Agnes + Day’s crisis simulation platform, contact us.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.