In most organizations, the only times a business leader and their team learn about business continuity & crisis management is when the time comes to update their business impact analysis and associated plans – or when an incident or crisis occurs. It’s not a great way to drive business continuity awareness.
This is a huge missed opportunity for most organizations and programs.
Instead, business continuity & crisis management leaders should be meeting and communicating regularly across the business to explain the program, highlight the program and organizational wins, and constantly explain how the program helps support the organization’s strategic business objectives.
When I first was asked over fifteen years ago to take over my then-employer’s business continuity program, I patiently explained to my would-be boss at the time that I knew very little about business continuity and crisis management. I would be a bad fit for the role.
He laughed, looked at me, and said, “I don’t need a subject matter expert Bryan. What I need is someone who understands how to communicate and can market & promote the program across the company.”
He was right.
This is an even more important topic at the time of this writing, in mid-2022, when there’s never been a time where business continuity & crisis management have been more important to an organization – and there’s never been a more important time to make yourself important as a business continuity leader.
How can you set about doing so within your organization? Let’s dive in.
Telling your program’s story
Every great narrative starts with a bit of an origin story. Where did the program come from? Why does it exist? What is its mission?
In any story I set out to tell about business continuity & crisis management, I start with the whys. Why do we do this? Why does the program exist? How does it support the organization’s strategic initiatives?
This information is then consolidated into a document I call the “walkaround deck”. In my previous roles, I literally printed out a copy and carried it around in my planner so that I could tell the story at any time I needed to with any willing audience that would listen. It was a constant feature at morning “coffee meetings” where I would meet with yet another peer from across the organization to share our program’s story and initiatives and learn how they might intersect with my colleague’s area of responsibility.
The structure of this presentation deck was straightforward:
- The Challenge: What was happening in the internal & external environment today
- Our Mission: A simple, straightforward statement of what we did – “Drive organizational resilience to ensure continuity of XXXXXX’s global business operations”
- A breakdown graphically of what we did:
- Continuity Lifecycle: BIA – BC Planning – Exercises – Training – Maturing Plans
- Program Management: Running & governing our program through enhancing our capabilities, governance, and communication (including awareness)
- Strategic Consulting: supporting new country entries, new strategic initiatives, integrating new acquisitions, supporting regulatory & internal compliance efforts, and supporting partner projects
- From there the deck went into a bit more detail on each of these three areas
- Contact information – where to go to learn more, who to contact
Once this presentation is put together, make plans to always keep it current, and then set about to speak at as many forums, team meetings, huddles, all-staff gatherings, or any other meeting you can wrangle an invitation to. It should be the background for every meeting you have with officers and senior leaders in the organization – enabling you to share your program story, the results you have achieved, and how you are supporting the organization.
Working with Communications for Business Continuity Awareness
Your organization undoubtedly has some sort of communications function that supports internal communications. They will need to be your new best friend.
Every company has channels for internal communications – an intranet, posters, digital signs, a newsletter, bulletin boards, internal social media, and more. Meet with your communications team and learn how to submit content for these different channels. Devise a simple communications strategy that supports monthly and/or quarterly communications as a starting point. Aim to create a piece of quality content that helps reinforce your story, as we’ve outlined above, for each month or quarter on your communications strategy.
These don’t always have to be about your program – they can cover topics like personal preparedness, the start of severe weather and/or tornado season, wildfires, reporting unsafe conditions, and other topics. But no matter the topic, it’s a way to communicate the value of your program and how items like preparedness, response, recovery, planning, and more help support the organization.
Your communications team likely has access to graphic designers or others that can help tell your story graphically. Including sharp creatives, particularly for posters or digital screens, or even just as graphics in an article, will help enhance your story. Infographics are another way to help explain complex topics in a simple way. We can help you with this as well (see below).
Leverage National Preparedness Month & National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
In the United States, each September FEMA and the US Department of Homeland Security celebrate National Preparedness Month, focused on personal, community, and family preparedness. It’s followed in October by National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which focused on personal and organizational cybersecurity awareness.
These are great national campaigns to leverage for your own awareness purposes by running parallel campaigns inside your organization – focused on promoting the national efforts but tying them back in a way that promotes stronger awareness of your organization’s program as well.
We’ve had great success in running a month-long campaign with contests, digital screens and/or posters, weekly articles, videos from leaders promoting the program, and more.
If done right, you can enhance the personal and family preparedness of your employees and gain stronger awareness of your program within your organization. And by working with your counterparts in Information Security around National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, you might even gain an additional partner for future awareness campaigns.
Don’t pass up any opportunity to tell your program’s story
A lot of business continuity & crisis management professionals are content to stay behind the scenes rather than being out front telling the story of their program.
Truly successful programs require leadership that is constantly working to tell the program’s story, gain new allies, and convert others to the cause of preparedness, business continuity, & crisis management.
Never be afraid to make yourself important.
Learn more about this topic in a video I did for Business Continuity Awareness Week 2022 over on our Facebook page.
Want to work with us or learn more about how we approach building business continuity awareness campaigns?
- Our proprietary Resiliency Diagnosis process is the perfect way to advance your crisis management, business continuity, and crisis communications program. Our thorough standards-based review culminates in a full report, maturity model scoring, and a clear set of recommendations for improvement.
- Our Business Continuity & Crisis Management services help you rapidly grow and mature your program to ensure your organization is prepared for the storms that lie ahead.
- We can work directly with you to develop awareness campaigns, including posters, digital graphics, infographics, articles, and more.
- Learn about our Free Resources, including articles, white papers, reports, introductory courses, webinars, and more. Our Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity explains our approach and everything you need to know about Business Continuity.
- Set up an initial call with us to chat further about how we might be able to work together