Burson-Marsteller, the strategic partner of M&P, presented the results of the Global Crisis Preparedness Study

Digital and Social Media makes crises more difficult for companies to manage and few companies are sufficiently prepared, global study finds

The findings of the survey, held by Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and communications firm, and Penn Schoen Berland, were presented at the EMEA Crisis Club for Crisis communications professionals in Barcelona, June 2011.

According to the key findings of the Study, 65 % of business decision makers believe that new media actually make crises more difficult to manage and almost the same percent of respondents (66%) believes new media have also significantly increased the potential cost of a crisis. However, only 54 % of respondents’ have crisis management plans.

“Some crises build gradually over time and others strike without a warning. Either way, having a comprehensive plan in place will make a difference on the resulting impact to a company’s reputation and the ability of a firm to recover from a crisis,” said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East & Africa. “Even though many companies see new media as a threat when it comes to crisis communications, the digital space actually offers corporations vast opportunities to respond to crises and to engage immediately with stakeholders.”

The study also found that among 59 % of respondents whose companies experienced a crisis in the past, those whose companies had no crisis plan were more likely to experience a drop in revenue (41 %) than those with a crisis plan in place (30 %).

Out of the four regions surveyed, Asia Pacific respondents led the way in crisis preparedness with 64 % having a crisis plan in place. Slightly more than half of European (51 %) and US (55%) respondents had crisis plans. Latin American respondents were least likely to be prepared with a crisis management plan (29 %). Even among those with crisis management plans in place, 47 % say that their current plans will cover their companies to some extent but that there are gaps.

“This year’s findings are consistent with the trend identified in our last year Crisis Preparedness survey. Only 20 % of companies have plans strong enough to withstand a crisis. A comprehensive crisis plan accounts for several factors such as scenario evaluations, action plans, financial plans and issue monitoring,” said EMEA Corporate and Crisis Communications Practice Chairman Eric Gerritsen. “While the new media landscape is complex to manage we now have tools to monitor issues and crises in real-time, plan accordingly and use the best social and multimedia channels to directly communicate our messages. It is more critical than ever to have a plan in place for how to activate these new channels of communication in a crisis.”

To access the complete analysis of the study, click here for a report.

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About this Study

PSB conducted a total of 826 online and face to face interviews globally amongst business decision-makers in May and June 2011.

About Burson-Marsteller

Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global public relations and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, advertising and web-related strategies. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 68 offices and 70 affiliate offices, together operating in 96 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Brands, a subsidiary of WPP.

About Penn Schoen Berland

Penn Schoen Berland, a unit of the WPP Group, is a global research-based consultancy that specializes in messaging and communications strategy for blue-chip political, corporate and entertainment clients. We have over 30 years of experience in leveraging unique insights about consumer opinion to provide clients with a competitive advantage – what we call Winning Knowledge™. PSB executes polling and message testing services for Fortune 100 corporations and has helped elect more than 30 presidents and prime ministers around the world.

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