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Why Kenya’s Corporate Sector Still Hopeless in Crisis Communication

by James Irungu
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In an increasingly complex environment, successful organizations and companies can well be those who create or develop the capacity to respond, react and recover from natural or man-made hazards quickly and effectively. In reality, resilience can be a competitive advantage and a means of maintaining and pursuing organizations ‘ purposes.

With the rise of technology, we currently live in a hyper-connected world, where speed and interdependencies are increasing exponentially. Communication professionals are overwhelmed by the numerous sources of information and challenged in finding what is urgent and essential. This certainly makes for an exciting life in communications, but it also creates a great deal of uncertainty.

Over the years, communication has continued to play a pivotal role in organizations during these critical moments. It is essential to communicate effectively with the internal staff, as well as with clients and also with the media in a timely manner, however, in Kenya, organizations still lack behind when it comes to putting up critical measures when it comes to this.

This is not only a local problem, according to a study done in the United Kingdom, by a communications company Hotwire, it reveals that 47 Per cent of businesses are worried about what to do in case of a crisis event, it also showed that 77 per cent of business’ decision-makers and 78 per cent of consumers would stop working with a business which handled a crisis issue poorly.

Businesses that aren’t equipped to cope with a crisis in advance tend to do so for many reasons. This could be they feel they are a solid brand that can survive even the most devastating crisis. It could be true for big corporations with financial capital to navigate through such catastrophe as well. Yet smaller, lesser-known companies must remember the fact that within two years of experiencing a major catastrophe, 80 per cent of businesses without a robust crisis plan would disappear which is the major state of most Kenyan businesses. It is especially true when there are many competitors in the field in which the individual business operates providing the same product or service. Therefore, a contingency plan does indeed seem to be an invaluable measure for every company.

Another factor that the businesses need to focus on keenly is ensuring that they comprehensively understand the crisis management plan and put adaptation measures in place.  Businesses need to align their preparation and training activities with key stakeholders, such as major business partners, and national security agencies, who would almost certainly be called upon during a crisis.

Moreover, crisis management teams should not only train human resources, internal or external but also periodically review the capacity and availability of all forms of related non-human resources: processes, services, equipment, etc. Too often the dimension of resource management in crisis management planning gets overlooked.

Finally, As the organizations appreciate the role of the communications department, they need to fully support the crisis communication planning which can help you deal effectively with those unexpected disasters, emergencies or other unusual events that may cause unfavorable publicity for the business.

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