Often things change in an editorial calendar … or something happens. That’s why journalists are
virtually always in a hurry to get answers immediately and to be on time for publication.
are working on a country survey among the most important companies belonging to CEMATEX (the
European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers) member associations. Companies in
Switzerland, Italy, Germany and France will be the first countries to have a look at it. The
results will be published in
and also will be published online at
As usual, for this kind of work, the questionnaire was sent out with the request to mail back
the answers as soon as possible – which means three to four days. Some did send back the answers;
Mostly, the explanation for not being able to participate is the following sentence: “Sorry,
our CEO is not available at the moment. As soon as he’s back in the office, we will let you know
the answer — in about one week’s time.” Fair enough. Hopefully these companies will not complain
when they are not mentioned in the survey. Deadlines are deadlines. But a missed opportunity is
just one side of the coin. The other side is quite tricky.
Starting A — Negative — Avalanche
Picture this, dear reader: In your production, one of your workers had an accident. Or, as
another example: In most countries, a strike in a mill can occur for whatever reason. A walkout of
the workers will provoke immediate questions, which lead to public information. Or, as an even more
dramatic situation: Something happened with a garment made of your yarns or fabrics. The lady who
wore the garment attended a party, and it caught on fire from a cigarette or lighter. She was
severely hurt, and the public impact will be huge and loud. The list of situations that may require
a clear statement from the management can be extended endlessly. All of you, dear readers, know at
least one or two examples. This is the first act of the – now public – drama.
After you have solved the immediate problem, the public is always knocking at your door — and
“public” here means, first of all, the daily newspapers and the TV stations. They want to talk to
you, but “Sorry, our CEO or responsible person is not available at the moment. As soon as they are
back in the office we will let you know” — and so on. And this is the next act of the drama and the
trigger to your real big problems.
Why? Because today, we are an interlinked society and live in a world of social media, and
social media never sleeps. The Internet and its different platforms such as Facebook or Twitter are
so powerful that your inability to give an answer right away will immediately kick off a negative
Rupp Report: Beware of Communication,”
TextileWorld.com, October 23, 2012). Then, you will truly be in deep trouble.
Every company must be prepared for every problem that can occur, no matter whether it’s on a
local, national or global scale. The understanding and the perception of the public today is that
you and your enterprise have a solution prepared for every situation. How is your company
organized? Does a crisis management plan exist? A company strategy cannot be executed without even
a simple but efficient crisis management. The solution for that is not so difficult. Just follow
your common sense and picture yourself in a similar situation. What do you want to know? In this
context, the following questions are important:
- Who is the overall responsible person for the whole case?
- Who can help?
- Where is help?
- Who is involved in this plan?
- Is everybody aware of this plan?
- Does everybody have a written crisis management manual and know his/her responsibilities?
And, more importantly, who is talking to the public? There must be a Mr. Speaker, not only in
a parliament. And probably not just one person — a deputy must be designated, just in case —
remember the missing CEO. And there are some traps into which you can fall.
Journalists, even if you don’t like them at all, are just doing their jobs like all of us.
And their job is to get an answer to their questions. A number of journalists from daily newspapers
or TV stations have an attitude of behaving sometimes like a prosecutor. Their reaction and
behavior depends very much on your own ability to calm down these people and talk to them
explaining the situation carefully but truthfully.
There is not enough room in the Rupp Report to write down a full crisis management plan.
However, crisis management with a maximum grasp is essential for your company’s image. If you want
to share with the global readers of the Rupp Report some situations that happened in your own
company, please share your thoughts by writing to
email@example.com. If requested, the Rupp Report
will not disclose your name or your company’s name. This exchange of information could probably
deliver some answers to your questions … just like the missing survey about your company. And the
question remains: Is a CEO always needed to answer questions — at least from the trade press?
January 22, 2013