What Can Credit Unions Learn About Crisis Management Planning From Lance Armstrong?

by Robin Remines

“It’s Not About The Bike – err, Lance either” – LiveStrong Foundation:  Crisis Management Done Right

When all hell broke loose this past fall with the USADA stripping Lance Armstrong of all 7 Tour De France titles and most recently his admission of guilt to Oprah, the LIVESTRONG Foundation came under scrutiny that threatened the very survival of the organization. Donors were crying fraud, lawyers were lining up to sue, etc. The future looked grim for those associated with the foundation. If you’ve read this far, you are probably wondering what does this have to do with your credit union? Well, let me tell you. All organizations must consider the threat of reputational damage however;very seldom do they adequately prepare and/or exercise this scenario. Our professionals weigh in below on the LIVESTRONG crisis management response and share how you can learn and incorporate these ideas into your BCP, Business Coninuity Planning, strategies.

Anatomy of the LIVESTRONG Response

We often talk about the “Golden Hour” once a crisis occurs – that period of time in which you have to get your story out before anyone else does. In a reputational threat situation, the story is already out but how you respond to it and when you respond to it is equally important. The LS Foundation response upon publication of the USADA report was swift and succinct – acknowledging the damage while beginning to communicate deliberating and repeatedly that the foundation was “more than one man”. Specifically the LS Leadership:

  • Were quick to express disappointment and affirm the actions were against the foundations core values – A charitable organization must be above reproach. Your credit union is no different. Condemning the behavior and not the man was the way to recognize the issue while not ignoring the strong ties he had to the foundation. Your credit union has a mission and values statement. When it is breached, are you prepared to respond?
  • Focused on what the organization has done (positive results) and will continue to do – Almost immediately, the foundation carefully constructed communication pieces to educate the public on what it’s mission was (cancer survivorship research) and what their accomplishments were to date (close to $500 million). In a time of reputational crisis, it is important your members know that you are financial sound, ethically led and operationally resilient.
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