By: Kirsten Peterse, Stijn Zwinkels, Anouk Schepers en Boris Wielers
A data breach exposes sensitive information of thousands of clients, an employee lashes out at a customer and that video is posted on social media, or stories circulate about your company’s unsafe work environment. Crises come unannounced and their arrival is usually accompanied by chaos and disastrous consequences. Whether crises are caused by a human error, a cyberattack or manufacturing defects, organisations need a well-functioning crisis management plan to control the situation effectively and to prevent reputational damage. Today’s world, where a simple tweet can result in a worldwide boycott, requires swift action. Yet, many organisations are ill-prepared for potential crisis situations.
Crisis teams must always be prepared, because crises are unpredictable by nature. One way to do this, is to simulate a variety of incidents and crisis scenarios. In doing so, potential risks can be identified, crisis management tested and skills practiced and improved. Negative media attention can be prevented by a quick and adequate response to unforeseen and threatening incidents.
Good preparation is the key to effective crisis simulation. Glasnost helps organisations prepare for crises with the following five steps:
1. RISK IDENTIFICATION
Start by analysing past experiences, industry developments, and weaknesses in products or services to compile a list of possible crisis scenarios. Think of allegations of harassment or discrimination, social indignation or product recalls.
2. GOAL SETTING
Prior to the simulation, define your goals: what is it that you are trying to improve and in which scenario? Focus areas can be: evaluating the demeanour of the spokesperson, writing convincing statements or measuring the response time of the crisis team.
3. CRISIS TEAM FORMATION
Determine in advance who has the required experience for certain scenarios and who is responsible for taking action. This goes for management, PR staff, legal advisors and external agencies.
4. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Use roleplay or other interactive elements to make the crisis scenarios as realistic as possible, by, for instance, re-enacting an attack or simulating an interview on national TV.
5. DEBRIEF & EVALUATION
Follow up the crisis simulation by discussing the events and evaluating the crisis management plan. Identify strengths and weaknesses, rethink protocols and procedures if necessary and develop new action plans for improvement. That way, your organization will be ready when it needs to be.
Would you like to know how your team handles crises? Get in touch and we’ll let you know.