LONDON: A survey prepared for UK bean-counters Grant Thornton reports that British businesses are insouciant to the point of negligence apropos the risks of potential public relations disasters.

It asked the owners of 7,200 medium-to-large privately held companies across thirty-two nations whether they had drawn up plans for dealing with a range of risks?

Most British businesses were well prepared to deal with threats such as the destruction of their property, IT failures and attacks by computer hackers.

But as to other operating risks - such as a media crisis - they had done less recovery planning than their overseas counterparts. A mere 26% had prepared plans to protect their reputation in a crisis - compared with 35% of businesses elsewhere on the globe.

Says GT head of strategic services Alysoun Stewart: "It is staggering to believe that so few businesses are prepared to deal with potential PR disasters.

"One only has to think of the food contamination scares involving Cadbury and Nestlé, and the lifelong associations they carry, to realise the importance of the issue.

"Furthermore, the recent product recalls from Mattel prove that businesses in any industry are susceptible to a potential media crisis."

British commerce is also lax when it comes to senior management succession planning, with just 53% of businesses having a formal mechanism in place.

But not as incautious as elsewhere in the world where preparation was lower yet at 50%.

"Exiting from your company is one of the most important decisions a business owner can make and should take years of careful planning," opines Stewart.

"Business owners who fail to recognise the importance of such preparation risk putting the successful continuation of their businesses in jeopardy."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff