Two professionals, both alike in dignity,
In urban Verona, Indiana, where lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break a new mutiny,
Where lack of crisis planning makes leadership hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of this corporate sphere,
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their corporate life;
While misadventure piteous overthrows
Do with their career death bury this age-old strife.
The fearful passage of their death-marked love,
And the continuance of their corporate parent’s rage,
Which, but their employees’ end, naught could remove,
Is now the three-act traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient eyes attend,
What here went amiss, our toil strives to mend.
The office of A. Fiasco, CEO of Shake & Spears, Inc., a large Midwest-based manufacturing company. Enter the head of corporate communication, Emailya.
EMAILYA: Fiasco, what’s jumping? Why so glum?
FIASCO: Look at these headlines. You’d think all companies come to ruin and doom. Shredded reputations, bankruptcies, careers broken. Scares hell out of me.
EMAILYA: Chill, Fiasco. Those corporate chieftains, they brought it on themselves. Not one of them had an effective crisis communication plan. You-know-what hits the fan, and the company’s reputation takes a huge hit. I’ve been trying to tell you for months to let me develop and implement a crisis communication plan.
FIASCO: Got bigger fish to fry. Teeing off at 3 p.m.
Fiasco’s office the next day.
FIASCO: Bad news, Emailya. Old Cap Montegue over at Mantua, Inc., missed golf yesterday. Seems he got canned after that toxic waste incident. Damn media! Hounded him to death. Just cause the spill killed some songbirds in a nine-county area and wiped out that dang chihuahua farm, oh, and the school and the mayor and his staff. Hey, stuff happens.
EMAILYA: My colleague was his PR chief. She tried to tell him. Are you going that route?
FIASCO: I hope not. Okay, what’s involved? Is this going to take much time? What the heck kind of crises could affect us anyway?
EMAILYA: All kinds. A crisis can be any situation that threatens to damage our reputation. One that draws negative media attention. It could be weather-related, an accident at one of our plants, financial scandals, you name it. The first thing we must do is assess what might potentially constitute a crisis. Where are we vulnerable? Then, we designate a crisis management team, a cross-functional group of leaders who train in advance and know what to do if a crisis occurs. We prepare these people, have them on standby, ready to convene quickly, if a crisis occurs.
FIASCO: What about the media?
EMAILYA: From the team, we name a primary and a secondary spokesperson. You are the primary, being the highest ranking officer. I’ll support you behind the scenes. The media wants the senior leader to stand and deliver. Our publics do, too; they want to hear directly from you. Earn your money, Fiasco! We’ll have a detailed crisis management plan from which to work. We’ll need to designate a place to serve as mission control in the event of a crisis. Needs to be a working space for us and the media as well. We’ll have to hold regular press conferences. We’ll need to formulate messages and prepare to respond to the media. We’ll keep detailed call logs and prepare talking points for you and any other designated spokesperson. I’ll supervise the overall crisis communication management function — facts-gathering, collecting questions and media inquiries, message formulation, media liaison, follow-up, all logistics for the team, and so on.
FIASCO: Next steps?
EMAILYA: Make this happen! I’ll manage the process day to day. You just need to lead — get your people together and form the crisis management team. Work with the board of directors. Get busy now!
The empty boardroom of Shake & Spears, Inc. It is weeks after Emailya urged Fiasco to initiate crisis communication planning. He did not, and now the firm is dealing with a terrible crisis. The firm’s reputation is devastated. Fiasco is discredited and despondent. Emailya is shocked and saddened and terribly overworked trying to salvage what she can of the company’s reputation.
FIASCO: All is ruin! It’s over. I’m toast. The media has made me the bad guy. The board is listening to stockholders who want me gone. If only I’d done what precious Emailya suggested. Now, it’s too late. She stays on the phone or with the media and key stakeholders. I never see her anymore. If there was just a way…I know! I’ll fake my own demise, then they will take pity on me and forgive me, and I can retire with a generous severance and play golf all the time. Emailya will join me, and we will live happily ever after. Let’s see. I’ll pour out these pills and lay here on the board room table. They’ll think I ended it out of shame. Shame, ha! I’ll have the last laugh when Emailya finds me, revives me and we escape to my condo in Florida.
EMAILYA: Fiasco! Fiasco? Where the hell is that little weasel? Wait, is that him, taking a nap on the board room table? Sounds just like him. I’ll sneak up on him and make him think I give a rat’s pa-toot about him. Oh, poor Fiasco, no! You poor man. Did you end your life out of shame? Then, I must go, too. I’ll stab myself with this letter opener and join you in the corporate afterlife.
FIASCO: (Smiles to himself) Oh, Emailya, dear, I knew you’d support me in the end.
EMAILYA: Support you, you weak, self-absorbed little twit! I going to check Ned’s Job of The Week, then take my crisis plan over to Mantua as a consultant. Then I’m off to the shoe sale at Nordstrom. Anyway, I’m outta here, dweeb!
A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show its head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardoned, some shall be punished,
For never was there a story of such woe,
Than this of competent Emailya and her Fiasco.