Uprightness, transparency, and competence in times of crisis

For the third time in three years one of the top five shipping lines in the world by transported volume is subject to a cyber-attack, crippling digital operations. This week, the French carrier CMA CGM has seen their website and other digital assets handicapped by what seems to be an uncoordinated cyber-attack, following similar attacks to Maersk Group in 2017 and MSC in 2018. 

While the events this week continue to stress the need to strengthen the digital infrastructure surrounding the operators digital platforms (at times when customers are increasingly relying on digital methods to interact with carriers due to COVID), the combined costs associated with restoring the digital activity, and the opportunity costs of missed loadings in an increasingly consolidated industry can mount to millions of dollars and can leave long lasting impact to the bottom line of carriers, while also affecting port infrastructure, trucking and railroad companies as well as third-party logistics intermediaries that depend on the assets managed by the operator to subsist.

But often in these crises there are aspects that are not managed appropriately and that can linger for months or years, affecting the victim’s trustworthiness and reputation: the way communications are managed to all stakeholders in times of crisis..

One of the key aspects of managing crisis communications for these global integrated brands that impact supply chains, port systems and trade across countries and continents is the need to be relentlessly upright, transparent, and competent as possible, while focusing on offering solutions to their customers and providers.

This sounds easier than it is considering how fast things move when an event like this strikes your organization. The first efforts are geared towards mitigating the spread of the breach, while assessing the damage to the network infrastructure, data leaks and initial impact to operations and communications between branches. 

Many organizations decide to remain silent and by doing so hand over the control of the initial communications to employees, vendors, customers or worst of all, competitors. Being on top of the message from the first hour is key to managing the company’s reputation and long-term trustworthiness. 

A dedicated team managing both internal and external communications based on clearly established priorities, with a dedicated timeline and consistent messaging across geographies is key to controlling the event’s messaging and its impact on the brand.

Subsequently, the following aspects need to be considered: addressing the audience in a consistent and prudent manner, mitigating business concerns, reassuring impacted  parties and carving an action plan to bring things back to normal that speaks to each affected group (employees, vendors, key clients, other clients, authorities, intermediaries). This balancing act, if managed with grace, a sense of urgency while being pragmatic and informative can lead to an improved perception in times when the lack of official information usually results in rumors or discredit campaigns. To recap, ensuring your organization acknowledges the problem, is competent to solve it and has their stakeholders’ interest at heart can make or break your business.

Our expert team at KUNAN Consulting is ready to assist your company in crafting a crisis preparedness plan that can help you professionally manage any contingency thrown your way. 

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