In conversation with crisis experts

Recently we hosted the third webinar in Sefiani’s series, “Conversations with Experts about Communication that Matters”. This one featured three crisis experts providing insight on crisis preparedness and how to harness technology for best practice reputation management.

Sefiani Crisis and Reputation Management Practice Lead, Nick Owens, hosted Gerry McCusker, Founder of the Drill, a full interactive and real-time online crisis portal that tests corporate decision making, and Charlie Forsyth, Chief Product Officer for Noggin Crisis, a platform to help crisis response teams collaborate quickly and manage crisis disruption smarter.

Gerry brings over 30 years’ experience as a crisis trainer, with a proven track record in getting companies crisis ready. He is an internationally acclaimed speaker and author of the acclaimed book, ‘PR Disasters’ – a critique of bad crisis management decision making. Charlie most recently oversaw the solution design of Noggin’s COVID-19 Epidemic Response Module which has helped over 600 organisations globally respond to and start to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

The group discussed the evolution of crisis management in response to COVID-19 and the methodology behind of drills, and shared advice for effective crisis handling drawing on real, topical scenarios.

Gerry shed light on how the pandemic has heightened awareness of the value of good crisis planning. The value lies in replicating the psychological and emotional pressures of a real-life situation to flush out short comings and build corporate “muscle memory” through experiential learning. The critical element is quality communication – the glue that holds all the disciplines that respond to crisis together.

Charlie spoke to the importance of pivoting on a plan, as every crisis is unique. Preparation is less about a dress rehearsal and more about practicing how to synthesise information and react well to the situation at hand. Digitalising a playbook enables companies to swiftly modify plans with lessons learnt from drill scenarios and increase visibility of the organisational workflow. Employees beyond the crisis team should be armed with crisis handling procedures, so that messaging is consistent and roles are understood.

According to Nick, while having a plan or scenario mapped out is important, the plan will inevitably collide with the reality of a distinct crisis. He shared his strong belief that crisis preparedness is much more than media statements and Q&A’s – it is anchored in stakeholder management. If you are not communicating well and transparently with key stakeholders, their dissatisfaction will find its way to media and the narrative is lost.

Webinar participants challenged organisations to collaborate digitally in a war room to build an agile, robust crisis plan. Businesses need to be forward-thinking and update plans as new information comes to hand and new risks are identified.

To watch the full webinar: “Crisis preparedness and response: harnessing technology for best practice reputation management,” please click on the image