Spitfire Strategies

Smart Plan: Spitfire’s Guide to Crisis Prep and Management

Beth Kanter

By Beth Kanter
Chief Strategy Officer

In 2007, I was working as a consultant for Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area (now Planned Parenthood of Illinois). We were planning to open a large health care facility in Aurora, Ill., a conservative suburb and the backyard of Joe Scheidler, one of the country’s leading anti-abortion activists. Opposition lurked at every turn. Contractors pulled out of the job. Pro-life groups organized massive protests in front of the building. The City Council threatened to deny its occupancy permit.

It’s a good thing we had a plan. No matter what opponents threw at us – we were ready for it. And on October 2, 2007, the Planned Parenthood Aurora Health Center opened its doors (that’s me on the ladder), making critical reproductive health care services available to thousands of Chicago-area women.

Fast forward to present day. Planned Parenthood continues to have a target on its back. The organization’s hostile opposition seems to stop at nothing in its efforts to shut down the organization. But it’s not working. Planned Parenthood is standing strong in the face of this latest crisis because it was ready with a plan in place.

Whether you are a large nonprofit like Planned Parenthood, a foundation or a smaller group, the best way to deal with a crisis is to be prepared. The Boy Scouts were clearly on to something.

To help, Spitfire created its newest tool, the Smart Plan: Spitfire’s Guide to Crisis Prep and Management. When a crisis hits, having a plan in place will allow you to spend precious moments and resources handling the situation rather than scrambling to figure out what to do.

The guide walks you through a four-step process to assess and minimize risks, identify potential sources of attack and leverage your strengths.

Assess Your Risk: Where are you most vulnerable? The Smart Plan helps you identify potential threats – both internally and externally – and assess your risk level. Spoiler alert: Tom Cruise makes a guest appearance in this risk assessment quiz.

Assess Your Opposition: To prepare for external crises, we ask a series of questions about your opposition to help you gain a clear picture of what you’re up against so you can prepare to counter them.

Minimize Risk: We help you consider the actions you can take to minimize the chance of something becoming a crisis and reduce the likelihood of attack.

Maximize Strengths: Use the Smart Plan to identify your organization’s strengths – which could include an active grassroots network, powerful allies, credibility with the media and/or a strong online community – and determine how to turn these opportunities into big wins when the time comes.

With that information in hand, your ready to put a crisis plan in place. The Smart Plan includes tips for establishing your crisis communication team, potential scenarios and appropriate response strategies.

While there’s no foolproof way to predict what an attack may be or when it will come, the Smart Plan’s four-step process let’s you rest easy knowing that no matter what comes next, you’re ready to respond.

Check out the Smart Plan at http://www.spitfirestrategies.com or give me a call at 202-448-0209 if you want to be prepared before a crisis strikes.

“This has been a tremendous eye opener. It shows us how to pull the aspects of communications skills, from the message, to the audience. It forced us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses in an effort to become more strategic in how we prepare our messages and communicate them.”

- Training Participant

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