Majority of Analysts Say a Poorly Managed Crisis Causes Detraction in a
TORONTO, April 12 /CNW/ - The biggest mistake companies make during a
corporate or operational crisis is a lack of communication and
transparency with stakeholders and employees, causing a negative impact
on valuations, according to a survey jointly released today by the
Canadian Investor Relations Institute (CIRI) and Fleishman-Hillard Inc.
The survey polled financial analysts and investor relations officers
(IROs) at companies across Canada and the United States on operational
and corporate crisis preparedness. It found that while many companies
are mindful of the potential damage crises can cause to their sales,
reputation and share value, few have an effective crisis management
plan in place to deal with negative scenarios — and if they do it is
likely out of date.
Further, the survey found that half of responding IROs from the
financial services and healthcare industries claim they don't follow a
crisis communications plan at all. The survey looked at both
operational crises, which are issues impacting a company's day-to-day
business, and corporate crises, issues involving a firm's executive
team or finances.
"Given the recent widely known sector crises — the 2008 financial
meltdown, healthcare product recalls, extreme environmental damages,
automotive sector crisis and other headline-grabbing frauds and
scandals — companies need to be armed with a plan," said Tom Enright,
CIRI president and CEO. "No sector or company is immune to a crisis;
having a crisis communications plan in place is simply prudent risk
"The survey reveals that a poorly managed crisis clearly has a negative
impact on a company's share valuation, so it is imperative for IROs to
be prepared," Enright continued. "A crisis communications plan is one
of the most important tools a company can have in its arsenal."
Yet for those who have a crisis plan in place, only 29 per cent of
companies update it once a year, according to the survey results. As a
rule, it is best practice to update a crisis plan at least once a year
to ensure the content is evolving and maintaining relevance in today's
Not only is there confusion around the frequency of updating a crisis
communications plan, companies also struggle with its focus:
Eighty-five per cent of responding analysts say a corporate crisis —
fraud resulting in accounting restatement — has the greatest negative
impact on a company's value.
But over 50 per cent of responding IROs say their company builds a plan
that prepares them only for an operational crisis.
"While it's clear IROs understand how trust, transparency and proper
disclosure can impact a company's valuation during a crisis, many are
still ill-prepared to demonstrate this through proper communications,"
said Anne Lachance, senior vice president and global financial services
co-chair with Fleishman-Hillard. "The value of having IR as an integral
part of any company's communications crisis plan can't be
underestimated; having a clear, thought-out plan in place at the end of
the day allows for quicker reaction and faster recovery to a potential
crisis. Displaying a strong effort to communicate frequently with
investors and shareholders throughout a crisis goes a long way to
preserve and maintain a company's reputation and stock price."
When focusing on digital communications, the survey found that while
many analysts and IROs recognize the potential impact that social media
outlets — Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — can have on their companies,
few have a crisis plan in place that incorporates social media
According to the survey, over 50 per cent of responding analysts look to
the corporate blog for information during a crisis, but only 17 per
cent of responding IROs say their companies use this tool as a channel
for crisis communications. Given that less than half of responding IROs
monitor social media platforms during a crisis, IROs clearly need to
incorporate these tools in their plans to maintain control of the
corporate message during a crisis and minimize wide-spread negativity.
An IRO's role during a crisis is very important. As the conduit between
analysts and the company, it's imperative that IROs play a lead role in
developing the communications plan. According to the survey:
Eighty-five per cent of responding analysts say IROs are a main point of
contact for a corporate crisis specifically.
Fifty-five per cent of IRO respondents don't know if the crisis
communications plan is updated after a crisis.
Fifty per cent of IRO respondents don't know if their company conducts
Only 19 per cent of responding IROs contribute to the corporate blog,
which was deemed as an important source of information by responding
"Given the importance of the IRO's role during a crisis, they need to
play a much larger role in developing the crisis communications plan,
executing crisis drills and regularly updating the document," said
Enright. "Their involvement in the process should be from beginning to
About the Survey
The 2011 Fleishman-Hillard Inc. and Canadian Investor Relations
Institute joint survey on crisis communications preparedness was an
online survey conducted among 34 financial analysts and 78 investor
relations officers in the U.S. and Canada. Interviewing for this survey
was completed during the period of Sept. 27 - Nov. 17, 2010.
About Canadian Investor Relations Institute (CIRI)
CIRI is a professional, not-for-profit association of executives
responsible for communication between public corporations, investors
and the financial community. CIRI contributes to the transparency and
integrity of the Canadian capital market by advancing the practice of
investor relations, the professional competency of its members and the
stature of the profession. With 600 members, CIRI is the world's second
largest society of investor relations professionals. For further
information, please visit CIRI.org.
Fleishman-Hillard Inc., one of the world's leading strategic
communications firms, has built its reputation on creating integrated
solutions that deliver what its clients value most: meaningful,
positive and measurable impact on the performance of their
organizations. The firm is widely recognized for excellent client
service and a strong company culture founded on teamwork, integrity and
personal commitment. Based in St. Louis, the firm operates throughout
North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Latin
America through its 80 owned offices. For more information, visit the
Fleishman-Hillard website at www.fleishmanhillard.com.
Fleishman-Hillard is a part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com). Omnicom is a leading global advertising, marketing and corporate
communications company. Omnicom's branded networks and numerous
specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and
buying, interactive, direct and promotional marketing, public relations
and other specialty communications services to more than 5,000 clients
in more than 100 countries.
SOURCE Canadian Investor Relations Institute
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