Your October Assignment: The Truth About Vulnerability Assessments During COVID-19

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Sexiest, teasing headline you’ve ever read, huh? Makes you want to put on your old t-shirt that says, “Only Real Men & Women Do Regular Vulnerability Assessments.”

Joking aside, you need to get on this. Here is the how and why…

We’re 8-9 months into a crisis that should have ended somewhere in the 90 to 120 day range.

Early on, it was your only crisis to manage and for which you had to communicate. I’m proud of you. After the first surge of communications, many organizations fell into COVID fatigue. That was followed by COVID limbo.

But now COVID-19 is part of a compound crisis and it is your responsibility to assess the threats and vulnerabilities that your organization could face next.

Here’s What’s Changed

Generally in the world of public relations and crisis communications, an expert would say the first and the best thing you should do as part of the crisis communication process is to assess every vulnerability that could affect the revenue, reputation, and brand of your organization.

Your initial Vulnerability Assessment is Step 1, and it becomes your roadmap for your next four steps, which include:

  • Step 2: Writing your crisis communications plan
  • Step 3: Writing a library of pre-written statements for your employees, media, customers, community, and other stakeholders.
  • Step 4: Media training your spokespeople (including virtual training)
  • Step 5: Crisis communications drills (including virtual drills)

Traditionally you would do an initial Vulnerability Assessment, followed by quarterly meetings with managers to identify and prepare for new or emerging vulnerabilities. For example, COVID-19 was not really on anyone’s Vulnerability Assessment one year ago. Nine months ago at your quarterly meeting, COVID-19 and all of the issues around it should have been added to your list.

Once on the list, you would update your crisis communications plan if necessary, adding pre-written news releases for COVID-19 protocol, response, outbreaks, and potential fatalities.

More is Better

We’re now recommending to our clients that the frequency should be increased from quarterly to monthly, because most organizations are facing compound crises, such as COVID + hurricane, COVID + wildfires, COVID + you name it.

Would you like some additional resources?

  1. Watch today’s video. It has a clip from a crisis communications Master Class I recently taught for SituationHub.com
  2. Watch the entire Master Class
  3. Watch our 5-part video series on the five steps to effective crisis communications.
  4. Get help with your Vulnerability Assessment by scheduling a free, confidential phone call with us.

COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. Please prepare for what comes next. Please step up the frequency of your Vulnerability Assessments.

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

Covid-19 Crisis Communications Webinar Recording

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

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