US Crisis Expert Communicates with Australia

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Bob Jensen, fourth from left, briefs Barack Obama during a Hurricane crisis in 2011

Communications is frequently the forgotten element in crisis risk management, a US crisis communications expert will tell Australian risk managers in an upcoming tour.

Bob Jensen, who has more than 30 years’ experience dealing with headline events, including crisis communications for the White House on Haiti, Deepwater Horizon, Hurricane Sandy and the Afghanistan/Iraq conflicts will alert Australian risk managers to the need for four essential plans to mitigate the impact of crises during events in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.

Mr Jensen said organisations today needed business continuity plans; crisis action plans; crisis communications plans; and cyber security action plans. For each, communication was one of the most critical elements.

He warned cyber security was evolving into one of the biggest potential risks for businesses, ranking higher than natural disasters and terrorism.

Too many organisations were unprepared for crises and particularly for communicating with stakeholders, including the media.

“In my work with national, state and local governments and the private sector, very few actually have adequate crisis communication planning. The result is that when a crisis or disaster happens, they are totally unprepared and lose precious hours, even days, trying to decide what to do. By then their businesses and reputations are damaged and public confidence is lost,” Mr Jensen said.

Insufficient planning – and inadequate testing of plans – was the reason a third of businesses failed after experiencing a major crisis.

“You can’t specifically prepare for everything but, by taking an all-hazards approach, your business will be in a better position to face any issue,” Mr Jensen said. “Most companies are woefully unprepared.” He warned that many CEOs had no media training to handle interviews and press conferences and many companies had no clear roles for communicating during a crisis.

Mr Jensen will share insights and lessons learned from government and private sector perspectives for those major events and tell RMIA event participants how they can integrate those ideas into their own enterprise risk management efforts.

He will explain what governments around the world see as major threats and risks and talk about how the US is using a risk-based approach to plan for and manage national security.

Mr Jensen has been a spokesman for the US National Security Council covering issues from terrorism and trade to cyber security and international conflicts.

His Australian tour starts on February 26 in Sydney and ends in Brisbane on March 17, 2015, for information visit www.rmia.org.au.