The current complexity in the management of corporate communication translates essentially into three very specific aspects. Firstly, the constant loss of credibility by organizations; secondly, the diminishing role of the media as reference point for intermediation between companies and society and, finally, and most relevantly, the power of society, individually or collectively, as a credible information source, as an opinion leader and as a means of communication. We could also add a fourth aspect, the reduction to zero of the response time in terms of communication.
This reality is further aggravated by the fact that the reputation of any organisation, public or private, is placed in a position of permanent weakness. It is precisely this weak point that has motivated the European Union to start initiatives to define a common framework for action, not only in crisis management, where major steps have already been taken, with the appearance of even ISO standards, especially in risk management, namely ISO 9001, ISO 31000 and ISO 27001, which regulate both the necessary protocols, and also the field of communication.
In 2014, experts such as Guillem Colom, professor in the area of Political Science and Administration of the Pablo de Olavide University and the Department of International Relations of the Pontifical University of Comillas claimed the need for an “integral approach” in an article published in number 34 of the Unisci Discussion Papers.
Today, there are already unified sectoral protocols within the European Union linked to the management of crisis communication. Progress has been made in sharing criteria at the international level and unifying them in all aspects related to (for example) food crises, economic and banking crises, and security crises, whether they be cybernetic or linked to the protection of the Member States. In addition, work in also being done to looking for criteria to establish much broader protocols. One example, is the work being developed by the group of experts created by the European Union earlier this year to combat “fake news and misinformation”.
Facing these new common frameworks requires organisations to adopt a pro-active approach. In this way, today it is advisable to deeply analyse what strengths and weaknesses we have as companies or institutions in terms of crisis communication management. Once this first step has been carried out, it allows us to know where we are from a global and transversal view for all the organization. We can then identify what we need to do and where we must go deeper into an identification of each and every one of the risks that we have or that may affect us. This identification will allow progress to be made in developing in protocols to associate which messages and actions we can generate in relation to each risk. This is relevant firstly in a preventative manner, secondly during any incident and also after we have overcome the crisis situation. Furthermore, if we know the risks, we know who we have to involve in them and who are our internal and external audiences. We will also know which channels we should use to communicate effectively, thus making the task of communication in any crisis situation much easier, more agile and more efficient.
Whereas it once seemed that all this was distant and nothing to do with “our organization”, companies are now coming to see that not only do they have to get on board with preventive crisis management, but also that very soon, this will be part of European regulations to provide companies, agencies and institutions of greater defensive capacity in the face of a changing world that is ever more complex. Communication and prevention must begin to be seen as the first line of defence of organisations, and also of their reputations.