Brand Strategist and Design www.water-comm.com
The potential risks in modern-day business are greater, more dynamic, and less predictable than ever before. And yet, the greatest exposure does not lie within these risks. Rather, it lies in having a team that is not prepared to anticipate, foresee, or respond to a rising threat, and its impact on your reputation, revenue, and relationships in real-time.
When your team is crisis ready, your organisation is prepared for anything and everything that the modern world can throw at it.
Crisis Ready is not about crisis management. Management is what happens after the negative event has occurred. Readiness is what is done to build an INVINCIBLE brand, where negative situations don’t occur and even if they do, they’re instantly overcome in a way that leads to increased organisational trust, credibility, and goodwill.
In Crisis Ready, Melissa Agnes draws from her remarkable experience in helping global brands, government organisations, and world leaders prevent and overcome a range of real-world, high-impact crises. No matter the size, type, or industry of your business, Crisis Ready will provide your team with insight into how to be perfectly prepared for anything life throws at you. Organisations that are crisis ready are more than just resilient. They’re invincible. Crisis Ready is your roadmap to business invincibility.
Crisis Ready is built around five steps for building a crisis programme, each of these is clearly laid out, described, and justified. There is a lot of work to do here, but with this blueprint, you can get ready to do it.
AUDIT YOUR ORGANIsATION'S CURRENT MINDSET AND CULTURE
The audit phase is about analysing where your organisation currently sits on the crisis ready spectrum, with the aim of being able to use that analysis as a baseline to determine the next steps towards becoming crisis ready. Every organisation starts at a different point in their crisis readiness, and understanding where your organisation sits is the foundation of knowing where to go.
When you conduct this audit, you want to examine everything, including:
• The organisation’s current mindset in viewing and responding to negative events. For example, are they taken seriously enough in proportion to their potential harm? Are your teams proactive in mitigating potentially negative situations before they occur? Are your teams regularly rewarded for putting people above process and bottom line?
• The organisation’s current processes and level of preparedness. For example, if you have a crisis management plan in place, where does that plan sit on the crisis ready spectrum? Has your organisation identified its most likely high-risk, high-impact issue and crisis scenarios? Do you conduct regular crisis management exercises? Have you put time and effort into preventing the preventable risks that pertain to your organisation?
The audit phase will help you craft a blueprint of where the organisation currently is in terms of its crisis readiness and where it needs to go in order to build brand invincibility.
UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENT VARIABLES AND IMPACTS
With the virality of social media, the twenty-four hour news cycle, and the interconnectedness of the modern world, everything moves at a faster and more hard-hitting pace than it used to. This becomes even more prevalent when you’re faced with a negative event. The blueprint you created from your audit gives you a clear snapshot of the level of education required. The goal is to build a consistent baseline of understanding for everyone who will be involved in developing and implementing the crisis ready programme.
Having a comprehensive understanding and awareness of how news transcends borders in milliseconds, how a video can become viral and have a million views before you’ve even heard about it, or how a poorly worded tweet can prompt impactful backlash, will serve in helping you gain the necessary support and buy-in required for implementing the next phases of the model. It will also serve when it comes time to actually manage real-time issues and crises.
IDENTIFY YOUR HIGH-RISK SCENARIOS AND STAKEHOLDER EXPECTATIONS
This is the phase where you begin to accumulate the data that you will need to build out your crisis ready programme. Here, you will gather information by having conversations with your team, from the top leadership to your department heads, stakeholder owners, etc., in order to:
• Define what a crisis versus an issue is for your organisation
• Identify the most high-impact and most likely types of issues and crises that pertain to your brand
• Understand the expectations and demands of your stakeholders in each of those situations
• Determine your current processes of internal escalation
• Understand how departments interact with each other and how information is currently shared
• Identify the organisation’s current gaps, vulnerabilities, and strengths in its different processes, policies, and procedures
The more in-depth your investigation into your organisation’s current processes and culture, the more practical your crisis ready programme will be. That’s the point of this phase: to gather the data required to create a robust, scalable, and practical crisis ready programme.
DESIGN YOUR ACTION PLANS AND COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
Now that you’ve gathered the necessary in-depth knowledge about the organisation’s current processes, the next step is to start using that knowledge to design your crisis ready programme, which is composed of two elements:
• Your hands-on crisis ready playbooks, which contain all the action plans and resources that will help guide your crisis management team through the first 24-48 hours of a breaking crisis; and
• Your crisis communication handbooks, which hold your scenario-specific crisis communication strategies and pre-drafted messaging.
Having these two elements will mean that you have a crisis ready programme that can be leveraged to your advantage at the outbreak of a crisis, which is critical when effective early action means reduced negative impact. These action plans and communication strategies are also in place to help you excel at the two essential requirements for successful crisis management:
• The actions you take to manage the actual incident; and
• Your communication with stakeholders.
You cannot succeed in crisis management without doing these two things and doing them well and simultaneously. Having a programme in place that’s scalable across issues and crises allows you to be ready for the worst, but also allows you to excel at handling the minor issues, meaning you will always have a solid strategy no matter what arises.
IMPLEMENT THE CRISIS READY PROGRAMME AND SKILLSET INTO THE CULTURE OF YOUR ORGANISATION
You now have knowledge, a programme, and a framework that makes you crisis ready—almost. Planning is essential, but in this day and age it is no longer enough to solely rely on a plan. The goal of being crisis ready is to have a culture where your entire team knows how to identify rising risks in real-time, how to quickly assess the potential impact of that risk on your organisation, and how to respond in a way that increases stakeholder trust and goodwill in your brand.
The implementing phase is where you begin to implement this culture by conducting simulations that are designed to test the programme and strengthen your team’s issue and crisis management skills. As the author writes, “You never hope to experience a crisis, but in a crisis, you hope to have experience”, this is the phase that enables your team to gain that experience.