Plan. Practise. Learn. Repeat – the importance of crisis planning

Kate O'Sullivan is the MD at ADPR Kate O'Sullivan is the MD at ADPR

Everyday seems to reveal significant crises in organisations. It’s easy to bury your head in the sand and think it won’t happen, but the reality is at some point an organisation – no matter their size - will face a crisis, writes Kate O'Sullivan.

Being prepared is critical to ensure a crisis is dealt with as effectively as possible. It’s better to have planned and be able to adjust communications, than to be thinking about your approach, create your strategy, get it approved and work out your messaging all when you are under considerable pressure... Or find you have a list of colleagues’ mobile numbers that are out of date.

In our experience, most situations are not unprecedented or unpredictable. Thinking about your organisation, can you answer these questions?

  • Have you identified what would trigger a crisis and reduced these risks?
  • Are communications an integral part of this plan?
  • Do you know the difference between criticism and crisis?
  • Do you practise your crisis plans?
  • Do you review, learn, update and improve as a result?
  • Do you know what your role is in a crisis?

Our expectations have changed. When a crisis happens, whether we are an employee, customer or stakeholder, we want the truth, personalised and instantly. Gone are the days of a couple of days’ grace before the crisis gets picked up by the media. Everyone is a reporter and happy to share images and footage as situations unravel in real time.

Being prepared is key. Understanding the context you are operating in is even more critical and being organisationally resilient paramount. Plan for the worst and remember that hope is not an effective strategy.

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