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From: Jack A., Illinois

Q: I graduated from a major university three years ago and landed a nice job with a corporation now about to celebrate its 50th year in manufacturing. My job takes me to our four locations, each in a different state. I work out of all of them and live in a town nearby one of them. My role is public relations, branding, and media relations. Although my degree combined business management and journalism, much to my regret, never was there a course available in crisis prevention and response. About 65% of my time is dealing with what it seems as if you do as consultants. I hope you will keep adding more and more items about crisis, emergencies, public issues and violence. I’ve had to handle all of these while learning on the job. Sorry for this lengthy explanation but we’re planning a big to-do celebration that’s keeping me up at nights thinking about all the things that can go wrong during our event. It will be simultaneous at each location. Any advice? – Jack A., Illinois

Jack, you didn’t mention when these celebrations will occur, the structure of your planning committee, nor other essential pieces of information whereby I can give you an appropriate answer.

First, I will be happy as a favor to discuss this matter, in strict confidence, with you by phone. Meanwhile, and depending on time between now and your corporate event, here are five early steps to consider immediately. Please remember, these signify only a beginning:

  1. If this hasn’t taken place, schedule ASAP an in-depth discussion with your immediate supervisor and the top executive of your corporation to make sure everyone is on the same page now, and will be as time moves toward the gala. Surely, others , particularly managers of the individual enterprises, already are engaged in elements of this affair!
  2. Make sure you are in every executive briefing relevant to the major occasion, and your responsibilities.
  3. Begin dialogues with key officials in each community (definitely First Responders).
  4. Assess your company’s relationship status in the four areas to determine corporate reputation — perceptions, impact of news stories or rumors for the past year. You must understand any internal problems that could interfere with a positive 50th birthday party.
  5. Study the budget – especially what is allocated for special circumstances.

Concurrently, keep a meticulous daily schedule devoted exclusively to everything related to your seemingly broad range of additional duties. Maintain crisis-consciousness.