In pretty much every situation that you are preparing for, there will is a strong likelihood that there will be a publicity moment – and not the good kind. This is especially true of incidents that are reputational in nature (rather than a physical disaster type of incident).
Whether your communications and social media team are adept at crises or not, it is crucial to include them in your exercises and simulations for several reasons:
- Smooth operations. If the communications and social media team aren’t prepared for how to work with your team, it will slow things down during a crisis. They have the ability to approve or disapprove of anything you want to share externally or internally with a large audience. And, they could end up posting communications that are contrary to information your team is sharing – or even that breaks the law, in some situations. Better to have your ducks in a row with them so its is clear who would send an internal alert to a companywide audience, what it should include and not include), any brand requirements, and a firm understanding of the timing so that your team can work quickly to get essential information to those who need it without delay.
- Prioritizes crisis planning. If the social media and communications teams are already prepared for a major incident, an exercise is a sure bet to demonstrate why they should be. By walking through an incident, they will see firsthand that the onus will fall on them to navigate a very tough situation. The team will be more likely to want to plan with you – and possibly even create a plan of their own to be better prepared for the real deal. Just ask that they include you if they have their own exercise – the phone rings both ways.
- Better relationship and awareness. A better relationship with these key internal partners is essential during a crisis, but they are also a good partner for other purposes. Communications and social media gurus are good at telling a story and singing praises. Being in their good graces and top of mind will only win favors – you may find your team getting some well-deserved coverage in the next company newsletter.
Overall, exercises and simulations are a great way to test plans, get teams thinking more in-depth about the processes in place, and bring alignment to core crisis responders internally. Regular (monthly or quarterly at least) exercises are the best way to keep everyone comfortable in their roles and to keep plans up to date. Don’t forget to test yourself – don’t play the facilitator every time – you need practice just like your team.
Can we help you?
Building an effective crisis management process that incorporates crisis management, crisis communications, and other functions within your firm is what we do here at Bryghtpath.
Bryghtpath has built the crisis management plans and frameworks for many Fortune 500 organizations, non-profits, and public sector agencies. Our firm has more than a century of experience in developing actionable plans to help prepare organizations for the unexpected. Learn more about our approach to Business Continuity in our Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity and our approach to Crisis Management in our Ultimate Guide to Crisis Management.