Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Why Crisis Communication Plans Fail--Version 2


Published on

Update to

  • Be the first to comment

Why Crisis Communication Plans Fail--Version 2

  1. 1. An Agincourt Strategies White PaperWinter 2013 v2Why Crisis Communication Plans FailBy Gerald Baron, CEO Agincourt StrategiesYou have a plan. Not everyone who should does,but you do. It’s taken weeks, months or maybe evenyears to get done. But, you’re still a bit uneasy. Will itwork when everything is on the line? What will youfind in the After Action Report as a fatal miss?The following is a list of the types of plans that arealmost certain to result in significant disappointmentwhen push really comes to shove. This list is basedon years of reviewing and developing plans for manydifferent types of organizations including federalgovernment agencies, nuclear facilities, militaryorganizations, global oil and energy companies, non-profit organizations from local to global and evenfamily-owned agri-businesses. This list has alsobenefited from the contributions of many readers ofthe Crisis Comm blog on whoresponded to the request for additions following asummary blog post on January 7, 2013. My thanksto all those who contributed and commented.Most plans will help maneuver through the experienced fire department PIO, then your plan looksdangerous waters of a major crisis or disaster. But like a plan for a large fire. If your organization recentlyreviewing dozens of plans has made it clear that the went through a painful product recall, chances are yourvast majority suffer from potentially fatal weaknesses. crisis communication plan is not going to be prepared forThe intention here is to help you identify weaknesses a toxic release or the sudden death of a high profileand biases in your plans before your organization’s executive.future depends on their effectiveness. This list hasbenefited from the contributions of many readers of There is nothing per se wrong with this plan if the onlythe Crisis Comm blog on who event you face is, say, a Northern California wildfire. But ifresponded to the request for additions following a your plan is intended to be “all-hazards” then you have tosummary blogpost on January 7, 2013. My thanks to look carefully if it is equally applicable to a pandemic, aall those who contributed and commented. calculated social media attack, a terrorist event, a major storm, hacking of confidential information or other types of events.1. Last Event Plans Solution:These are plans based on the last event experienced.Crisis management plans are similar to battle plans The solution to this problem starts with making certainand failures of these plans often point to preparing to that you do a thorough risk or vulnerability assessment.fight the last war instead of the next one. “Last Event You can review the available online or printed informationPlans are highly dependent on the past experience of about comprehensive risk assessments. Your planningthe planner. If you did fire response in northern team should include those with experience in a variety ofCalifornia, then your plan looks like a northern events. It may be helpful to have your draft plan reviewedCalifornia fire response plan. If you are an by experienced crisis communication experts with deep experience in different events.
  2. 2. 2. Past World Plans contribute significantly to your plan. Changes in our public information environment are changing almostThese are plans based on a news environment that daily, which also means that a plan that is two years orlong since disappeared. These are plans for the Dan more old is most likely seriously outdated.Rather, or even Walter Cronkite, era of news instead of the Jon 3. Directionless Plans Stewart, Reddit and You might think this an oxymoron. After all, a plan Twitter era. provides direction. That’s true, but most plans include a This is a lot of specific actions to take without a clear explanation fundamental of the reasons behind those actions. In short, they don’t miss that include clear policy guidance. What is the intention and shows up in goal of senior leadership in the communication many ways response? How will they measure include a lot of throughout the specific actions to take without a clear explanation of the plan. To know reasons behind those actions. In short, they don’t if yours is a include clear policy “Past World” guidance. What is theplan, ask yourself a few questions: intention and goal of senior•Is it focused on getting out press releases? leadership in the•Is it focused on press conferences and media communication response?briefings? How will they measure•Is it focused on spokespeople and what they say? whether or not the effort is•Does it place monitoring social media and the entire successful? How would theyInternet at the core of response planning as well as want those responding tocommunications? think through some of the•Does it include the technical capability to reach out difficult dilemmas and issues that will be faced?in multiple forms to stakeholders and members of thepublic? For example, a policy or guidance statement that says “Our goal is to build trust and we will let nothing stand inThe result of implementing “Past World” plans will be the way of that goal,” is a powerful way to help responsethe surprising discovery that the media are paying leaders and team members think through difficultlittle attention to what you have to say because they decisions. It also provides an important means forare getting more relevant information faster from evaluating success. A policy statement such as “Weother sources—mostly citizens. You will also likely be recognize the right of news reporters to do their job andsurprised to find that you disappointed an awful lot of we will do all we can within the limits of safety andimportant people. Today, key stakeholders expect to response effectiveness to assist them,” will provideget information about an event that affects them from important guidance to those working with reporters. Atyou. If they are forced to get it from the media, they the same time, it may very well stimulate some importantwill be getting it from a source that may be intent on and valuable discussions at the highest levels of theprofiting from your troubles. Not to mention their organization. Ultimately, these policy statements reflectdisappointment that you did not consider them the organization’s culture, values and priorities.important enough for you to communicate directlyand personally with them. The process of engaging the organization’s leaders in preparing an effective plan and identifying these policySolution: statements or guidelines is itself extremely helpful. It helps highlight and focus some of the key issues andYour planning team needs to include people who decisions that will need to be made. For example, howhave a deep understanding of how the news and will the organization deal with issues where there is apublic information environment have changed. You clear conflict between protecting the organization in themay want to look for the twenty-somethings in your court of law vs. the court of public opinion?organization who are “digital natives” and who live ina continually-connected world. Ask those in your Solution:organization who gets most of their news from Jon Working out policies that will be effective in meetingStewart and Reddit, and you will find those who can today’s communication expectations requires some in-
  3. 3. depth experience in contemporary crises. For communications may have Pete doing this work, Amberexample, what is your policy on who can talk to the doing that, and Sue doing all the other stuff. But, can thismedia? Most will immediately say, “only authorized structure be applied to a crisis?. There are someorganization spokespeople can talk to the media.” advantages in this in that Pete, Amber and Sue areBut, as was seen in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil known entities and their capabilities are proven.spill, any attempt by an organization, including thefederal government to limit who reporters can talk to The problem comes in when there are truly large eventswill likely become a major story and will cast the that overwhelm the existing team. This is especially trueorganization as “hiding” or covering up. Because of when an event is protracted and various people have tothe severity of media criticism National Incident be rotated into key positions. That’s when very clear jobCommander Thad Allen issued a media policy that descriptions and an organization structure designed tomade it clear that anyone involved in the response, plug people in to an on-going work team becomesincluding BP employees and contractors, were critical. So, while some events may work fine usingallowed to speak to the media. A policy that takes existing structure, the fact that such a structure won’tthis into account will state that the organization work for all events means you end up with a variety ofspecifically allows all employees to talk to the media. plans based on events (See Plan 6 below). It’s muchHowever, they should restrict their comments to their better to have a single organization structure that isarea of responsibility, never speculate, and refer the highly scalable.reporter to an authorized spokesperson designatedto provide organization information and positions. Crisis events in some ways are like daily communica- tions, but on steroids, and in other ways they areThis example of media access policies is only one of something completely different. There are likely to bemany examples of important policy decisions. These gaps in your existing team and organization chart thatneed to be discussed before an event occurs, and all are critical in major events. For example, does your dailyrealistic plans include a summary of these important team include those capable of phoning high-level electeddecisions so that everyone involved is clear on what and governmental officials to coordinate meetings, oris expected from them. planning community meetings that may be rowdy, boisterous and potentially dangerous? Solution:4. Same but Bigger Plans The best solution to organization structure is to build onOrganizations that are involved in routine proven crisis communication team organization structurecommunications, particularly routine media such as the Joint Information Center Model used bycommunications, often make the mistake of thinking federal government agencies. This structure is highlythat a major event is merely an extension of their daily scalable so that it works for a team of two as well as aroutine. This is seen mostly in how the crisis team of 200. It has the added advantage, discussedcommunication team is organized and how they are below, of creating consistency when responding withto work together to make decisions. For example, other organizations, particularly government agenciesuniversities tend to be very (see Plan 5 below).collaborative and run bycommittee on a day-to-daybasis. So the crisis 5. Fly Solo Planscommunications team is goingto be run by committee as well The vast majority of plans look at what their organizationwith various people needing to will do and will need to do in a response, without lookingbe consulted and involved in at others who will also be responding. Assuming youdecisions. It is likely to be a have done a good job of identifying potential crisisrecipe for disaster in an event scenarios, look at how many will involve others. Forof any significant scale. natural disasters you are certain to be coordinating to some degree with local emergency managementOrganizations typically organize their work teams departments or even perhaps FEMA. For crime events,around a combination of some reasonable logic and environmental events, major accidents you will likely bethe specific capabilities of individuals. So a working with law enforcement, regulatory agencies,communication team working on daily federal and state agencies with authority over the
  4. 4. response. For almost any event involving fatalities or dozen more. There is some real benefit in workinginjuries you are going to work with hospital and through the specifics of different scenarios and it is clearmedical providers and possibly coroner’s offices. An that not all events are the same and require the sameall-hazards approach suggests that relatively few response. But, if you have a different plan for every kindevents you need to prepare for are truly “fly solo” of event you face, there’s a good chance things will not events. work as planned. An all-hazards plan provides a basic framework for response that is applicable to all or nearly It is much better to work in all events your organization may face. concert with others who A crisis or emergency requiring are responding. In many activation of a crisis communication cases you may be working plan means there is an urgent need to with highly experienced communicate important information to emergency management different people and audience groups. professionals. Your A process that can efficiently do that stakeholders and the will work for virtually any scenario. Andpublic would much prefer to see those responding that means you don’t have to siftworking effectively together, and while reporters may through a dozen red binders to pulllike to see conflicting and confusing information the right one off the shelf when youcoming from different sources, consistent information need it (more on plan access on Plan 12).from those responding does much to buildstakeholder and public confidence. Solution:Solution: Develop a basic plan structure focused on the need to gather, produce and distribute information to multipleEvaluate your scenarios. Assuming they are fairly audiences. Include a realistic means of managingcomplete, identify which will involve other agencies or realities of interaction, engagement and numerousresponse partners. If it is likely you will be involved inquiries. This kind of basic plan is the foundation.with government responders, make certain your Different events may require different actions which canemergency response plan or crisis management plan be built around this core and perhaps included inuses the Incident Command System (ICS). There is appendices.much information available from FEMA on creatingplans compatible with the National IncidentManagement System (NIMS) and the ICS. Forcommunications, this is a major reason to base planson the National Response Team’s Joint Information 7. Failure of Imagination PlansCenter Model. While this provides an excellent modelto follow and is proven in hundreds of events, those Katrina, Haiti, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima, Sandy—facing federal government response involvement all mega-disasters. In many mega-disasters the causesshould also become familiar with the Emergency are more complex than a single event. In New OrleansSupport Function #15, the external affairs element of the hurricane led to levy collapses that were the realthe National Response Plan. This structure is very cause of flooding. The oil industry could not imagine thatdifferent from the JIC Model and is designed a complex trail of events could lead to a deepwater wellspecifically to allow much greater control over being unable to be stopped for 90 days. In Japan, theresponse messages with political significance and is earthquake led to a tsunami which led to nuclear plantnot recommended as an operation model. It also is disaster. It may be relatively easy to plan for the single-not designed for collaborative response. But, as it will cause event. It is much harder to think how one thingbe implemented by the Department of Homeland might lead to another and another, or apparentlySecurity in any major disaster event, including human unrelated events happening in quick sequence. That’scaused events, it is valuable to understand how this why one of the key questions to ask in the early minutesstructure works and how to connect with it. of a response is “how could this get worse?” Scenario planning today requires thinking about the unbelievable if not impossible. Our attention on the6. Too Many Plans Plans unexpected and unpredicted was highlighted by the popular book The Black Swan by Nassim NicholasHurricane plans, tsunami plans, toxic release plans, Taleb. As James Roddey of andworker fatality plans, active shooter plans. And a Mike Brown of Brainzooming pointed out, using the
  5. 5. Black Swan ideas can help organizations better Communication leaders accustomed to doing a lot of theprepare for mega-events. communication functions themselves may find it difficult to properly delegate so that all essential tasks in a largeOne reason such events may not be considered is event are managed. And political leaders understandablythat when they are included in planning it becomes concerned about the impact of the event on theirclear very quickly that the resources of the electoral future often demand complete control over allorganization will quickly be overwhelmed. True, but information flowing from the event. But Top Down Plansthis problem does not go away using the head in the are almost certain to fail. There is definitely a need forsand approach. In the Deepwater Horizon event of strong, highly visible and compassionate leadership in an2010, as many as 300 communicators were involved event and political and organization leaders need to be seen as in control and communicating key messages. But effective plans, including communication plans, delegate decision- making and information release authority as far down as possible. The reason is simple: there is too much going on too fast to have a burdensome decision process slow everything down. Issues and concerns rise on social media, spread into mainstream media just as spot fires are spread by a stiff wind in a wildfire. If there is only one person with a hose or shovel, little will get done.during the height of the event. Organizations don’thave anywhere that number on their staffs. But, Solution:plans that include mega-events consider where theywill find the people they will need in these extreme This is ultimately a corporate or organization culture issuecircumstances. This includes sometimes contracting and therefore may be very difficult to overcome. One waywith global or local public relations firms for access to raise the issue to the forefront is through a discussionto their staffs, or with experienced response of the policies. Organization leaders may question themanagement or crisis communication responders. It need for these because they think they will be making thealso may mean including VOSTS, or volunteer critical decisions. Leaders who have been through major,operations support teams. Technology, including complex events are much more likely to understand thesocial networks, is making it much easier to engage need for delegation. Short of that, the best way to makethe services of experienced team members this requirement clear is through a full-scale drill orregardless of location. exercise that is realistic in complexity. Then, an honest discussion after the fact can help to make this requirement clear.8. Top Down Plans 9. Approvals Required For Everything PlansTop Down Plans make the assumption that theleader at the top is going to make all the decisions. This is closely related to the “Top Down Plans” but isThese plans are essentially there to make certain that specific to information releases. Those familiar with thenobody does anything without getting proper Incident Command System will note that the Incidentapproval. One experienced Public Information Officer Commander is the only one with the authority to approveexplained his plan as essentially calling all the information to be released by the PIO and the JIC. Whileavailable support staff into the room and then this has been standard practice for some time, eventshanding out assignments. have proven that if that authority is exercised in the
  6. 6. 10. Big Shots Know Everything Plans Closely related to Plans 8 and 9, this one assumes that the organization or response leaders will assume control and make it up as they go along without regard to preparations. In reality, this problem may not show up in the plans. The plans as written and practiced may not include the senior leaders, leaving response management to those with experience and education. And that’s the problem. Because in actuality, in major events the organization’s leaders will get involved whether they have any background in response or crisis communication management or not.traditional way, the communication team may as well This is remarkably typical of major events. Those whogo home because the media and everyone else will have spent years preparing to respond and have hadlearn all they want and need from other sources. experience in exercises and real events are pushed asideThere are many corporate leaders who demand full by the big bosses who assume control without regard toand complete authority over all information about the the preparations that have beenevent regardless of whether they are actually leading put in place. They can do thatthe operational response or not. One global because, well, they are the bigcompany’s plans demanded that any information bosses. This is often very true ofabout an event be approved by the CEO even political leaders as well as CEOsthough headquarters was located half a globe away of major corporations. Thesefrom where the events were likely to happen. busy people don’t have the time, interest or inclination toSolution: participate in the training and drills used by the professionals toThe solution is rather obvious but exceedingly establish best practices and prepare. But, when the baddifficult. Approval for some kinds of information must stuff hits, they don’t have the humility to recognize thatbe delegated as low as possible. This requires people well below them in organization structure aretraining and trust—and clear guidance (back to the likely the best ones to manage the response. Of course,policy statements). To make this more workable, the as the senior leaders they have an important supervisorybest plans make a clear separation between role to play. But to push aside the well-honed plans,response information and organizational messages. structures, training and experience of the experts is aResponse information consists of facts about the recipe for disaster. This happens far too often not just inevent and the response. Wind speed. Feet of boom the operational response, but also in the communicationdeployed. Numbers of people responding. response. A smoothly-running Joint Information CenterDeployment of resources. Organization messages are operation was completely destroyed by a companydifferent. They include expressions of empathy, executive in a major event who had no background inregret, sorrow or concern. They include upcoming crisis communication and who put in place a “pressplans and commitments, characterizations of the office” operation for the few days he was in charge. Itscope of the event, comments on cause or was what he knew and was comfortable with, but ainvestigations, comments on impact and treatment of complete disaster. When he left, the pieces were pickedvictims or those affected. In other words, anything up and put back in place.that can be seen as reflecting views of theorganization or its leaders. These “messages” need Solution:highest level approvals. The “information” includingupdates and rumor corrections relating to response In a perfect world, senior leaders including the electedfacts should be released by those in a position to officials who oversee jurisdictions, department andpositively verify the accuracy of the information. agencies would be required to get Incident Command System and Joint Information Center training. They would be there during every major drill. They would see all the planning and preparation that went into it, and
  7. 7. why a response organization is not like their include the role communication plays in makingmanagement team. And, in that perfect world, that response decisions as well as how the entirewould have sufficient humility and delegation skills to organization works to effectively communicate theallow the experts to do their work and the plans to decisions that are implemented. Because we don’t live in a perfectworld, the best thing is to do all that can be done to Solution:include the senior leaders in the training andexercises, include a clear and meaningful role for If a crisis communication plan is based on ICS and JIC,them in the crisis communication plan and have a this issue is addressed in the plan. However, manygood and honest discussion about how things can response leaders focused on operations may notgo wrong when plans and experienced people are properly appreciate the role the communication leaderpushed aside. needs to play in participating in all response decisions. By that I mean being in a position to recommend and advise on proposed actions taken as well as advising on11. All Words, No Actions Plans public communications. If that is not the understanding of organization or response leaders now, conversationsOne of the best aspects of the Incident Command about it should be held before an event. They can beSystem and the Joint Information Center is including included as part of pre-event training, discussions andthe Public Information Officer (PIO) as one of three exercises. The plan should make clear that the jobmembers of Command Staff. This puts description of the Communication Lead or PIO includescommunication squarely into the Command being an active participant in the response leadershipdecision-making process. If planned and team and active in the actions as well as words.implementing properly, this not only gives theresponse leadership direct input on critical communication issues, 12. Not There When You Need Them Plans but also puts the communication lead in A group of utility managers who had managed significant the position of assisting events were asked how many major events occurred in major response between the hours of eight and five. None. Not one. decisions. Wait, you say, Most events are going to happen when you or other key that’s not their job. But, leaders are away from the office and in off hours. Where it is their job because is your plan? If it is in a big red binder on the shelf behind the success of the your desk, it won’t do you much good. Increasinglyresponse ultimately will be determined by the response management depends on a team that isperceptions of stakeholders and the public. Much dispersed in many locations. Do they all have access toresearch and experience has made clear their the plan?judgment is primarily about the character of theleaders made clear through their actions. Actions, itturns out, really do speak louder than words. Solution:Therefore, if the communication leader has a majorrole in the public perception of the event and The solution is rather obvious:response, he or she MUST have a voice—preferably the internet and/or mobile apps.a strong one—in the actions taken. Certainly, they For some organizations privatemust play a role in advising Command or the senior networks that can be accessedresponse leaders on the perception impact of any 24/7 may work just fine. Thoseproposed actions and what those actions may mean smart devices in our pocketsfor the long-term reputation and viability of the give us access to a world oforganization. incredibly valuable information. But, do they give you access to the very importantCrisis communication, in its simplest form, can be information you need when a crisis or emergency hits?seen as communicating the actions of the decision- The great thing about internet-based plans is that theymakers in responding to the event. Bad decisions not only contain the static information about what to dowell communicated still equate to response failure. in an event, but they can be dynamic. In other words,Good decisions poorly communicated also equate to you can and should be able to act on those plansfailure. So the crisis communication plan must through links and software directly from the plan.
  8. 8. 13. Measured by the Pound Plans - website content management, preferably on a dark site specific to an incident and fully preparedSometimes plans look like whoever created them got in advancepaid by the word—or the pound. They are lengthy, - email distribution to pre-established contacts thatdetailed, and their complexity makes it almost are accessible 24/7impossible to find what you are looking for when you - inquiry/interactive management—systems formost need it. These plans will clearly not do much tracking, facilitating and reporting on thegood during an event. But, this highlights a real questions and comments received and theproblem. A very simple plan that is just a few pages responses sentlong is likely not to include all the vital information - text and automated phone calling—text isneeded. On the other hand, go beyond a few pages particularly importantand the plan won’t be useful in the early crush of an - email and text list management—method forevent. easily maintaining the contact information for those people who want to get responseSolution: information - social media—use of social media channels forOne solution is how the OnePage Crisis distributing information, monitoring, and forCommunication Playbook is structured. The entire interactionplan, including all-important guidelines, are captured - internal communication management—easy wayon a single page in graphic form. This includes the for dispersed team to gather info, collaborate onorganization structure of the crisis communication preparing it, getting updates, and coordinatingteam as well as the initial steps needed immediately plans and activitiesafter an event occurs. But, this one page guide is - Media and social media monitoring—online toolsbacked up by a detailed manual that explains all the to capture and analyze media reports, socialnuances and specifics of the actions to be taken. media conversation, and sentimentJob descriptions for each of the roles is included inthe Workflow and charts make clear how each role Solution:interacts with the others. The analogy is to a footballteam. The OnePage Guide is the quarterback’s I am most familiar with PIER (Public Informationwristband that contains all the plays, but it is Emergency Response), a technology I created in 2000,supported by the playbook which the team has used the system is now provided by Witt O’Brien’s. It has theto practice with before the big game. advantage of combining many of the requirements in a single platform. However, a wide variety and rapidly expanding list of technologies and tools are available. It is14. Engineless Plans helpful to keep in mind that today’s plans and supporting technology need to accommodate three modes ofThese are plans that do not include the use of communication: push, pull and interactive. That iscommunication technology to support the team’s proactive distribution to multiple contacts and audienceefforts. While it’s hard to believe, too many plans groups (push), ability for those interested to get the infotoday depend on handing out photocopies of press they need from you (pull), and a way to manage the highreleases to media gathered at the scene or waiting levels of personal interaction (interactive).outside the JIC. News doesn’t happen this wayanymore. The 15. Say Nothing and It Will All Go Away Plans“engineless”plans are Here’s one of the suggestions generated by the originaltypically list. It may be the most common plan of all. It may springrelated to the from the idea that to plan is to bring on disaster.“Past World However, I’m not sure too many say after experiencing aPlans” above. major crisis that they wasted their time on too muchToday’s crisis planning.andemergency Solution:managementrequires at least these elements involving technology: Make a plan and practice it.
  9. 9. 16. Because We Needed a Plan Plan have someone changing it every day. People change, with those changes come organization change, plus inSome plans are too obviously created as a check the communication world there are new channels, toolsbox exercise. They said we needed a plan, so there, and challenges popping up regularly. Many of these havewe have a plan. They may be simply adapted from impact on the status of your plan. But Hopelessly Out ofan overly general plan template and not reflective of Date plansthe organization’s specific risks and challenges. mean that theyThese plans generally become Plan 17 (see below) have essentiallybecause no one takes them very seriously. The lost their valuecause is generally a directive from senior leadership because of theto those below saying: we need a plan, without volume offollow up, review or showing real interest in the changes or thequality and use of the plan. time between updates. TheSolution: biggest issue tends to beThe degree to which crisis plans are taken seriously people andin the organization is based primarily on the level of contactinterest of senior management. If plans seem to be information.after-thoughts or box checking exercises, a Plans typicallydiscussion with senior management about the role identify team members and how to reach them. But, ifand importance of plans would be appropriate. you look at the plan and see that a number of the folksDirect involvement of the most senior leaders is the have moved on, or if the contact information has pagerbest way to resolve not only this issue, but many of numbers, it’s probably quite certain that plan isthe problems identified here. Hopelessly Out of Date. Solution: This problem is part technological. Paper is just not a17. Dust Gathering Plans very dynamic medium. If you are keeping all your important details from the plan on paper, in binders, thenPlans that fit Plan 16 above usually become Dust it is very easy to have a Hopeless plan. Much better toGathering Plans. These are ones which sit around keep contact information, templates, pre-stagedmonth after month which can turn into year after year information and other needed items on a platform thatwithout use, review, updating or testing. can be reached and updated continually. Crisis communication platforms used for managing crises canSolution: be integrated with employee databases through something called APIs to enable on-going updating ofSame as Plan 17 above. Senior leadership must be team contact information without requiring any work. Theengaged. Effective plans are ones that are seen as a vital information needed in implementing a plan shouldcontinuous process including exercises, training, not be limited to paper form. Doing so it likely to result inreview, evaluation and updating. This happens when the plan being Hopelessly Out of Date.either a preparation champion in the organizationpushes the issue or, more likely, when seniormanagement recognizes that the plans and how they 19. In a Perfect World Plansare used is important to their future and the future ofthe organization. If that is not happening, time to A hint whether or not your plan fits this category can behave a discussion with senior leadership and found by looking at how the plan suggests you activatedetermine the level of interest in these plans. your team. Does it say to call their office extension? Won’t do much good for those events that happen outside of office hours. Does it say call them on their cell18. Hopelessly Out of Date Plans phone? Works as long as cell phones work—which is not much in events affecting significant parts of theThe fact is, almost all plans are out of date. Our population. Does your plan identify a specific person asworld just changes too fast and it isn’t reasonable to heading the crisis communications response? What if
  10. 10. that person goes down in the same crash that takes About Gerald Baron and Agincourt Strategies the Chairman and CEO. Or if she is on Gerald Baron is the creator and developer of the PIER System, the beach on the crisis communication management system employed by Barbados and can’t numerous government, corporate and non-profit be reached? Perfect organizations. He’s the author of Now Is Too Late2: Survival in world plans simply an Era of Instant News, called the best guide to crisis don’t take into communication in the digital era. He blogs at Crisis Comm for Emergency Management and at He is the account the realities founder and CEO of Agincourt Strategies. that not everything will be in order when Agincourt Strategies provides education and training an event hits. You’ve products and consulting services in public affairs, crisis andplanned for working with the local hospital. What if emergency communications. The OnePage Crisisthe beds are full? Communication Playbook is a plan and training template including a video and online training series. The Agincourt Gap Analysis providing a comprehensive evaluation of current crisisSolution: communication plans and is supported by a network of highly experienced and respected crisis communication experts.The ironic thing is that crisis plans also need theirown business continuity plan. In other words, theyneed built-in redundancies and backup plans. Everymajor position should have at least three peopleidentified and trained to fill that position. Variousmeans of contacting key people should beconsidered including possible use of satellitephones. More reliance in contacting should be OnePage Crisisplaced on text messaging because of the resilience Communication Playbookof the cellular data vs. voice networks. No one singlemethod should be relied on for activating the teamand for maintaining either internal or external The simple, complete and scalable guide to crisis and emergency communication in the hyper-networked worldcommunication. Gerald Baron Agincourt Strategies Version 1.4Creating Plans that Won’t Disappoint OnePage Crisis Communication PlaybookThe above list is far from exhaustive. Crises and - OnePage Guideemergencies are just to complex, varied and - 130 Page Training Manualunpredictable. No plan is bullet-proof. Hopefully, this - Train-the-Trainer Power Pointlist will provide food for thought and some ideas on - Fifteen Training Videoswhere your current plan can be improved. Returning - Online Teststo the football analogy, the game is won on the fieldand that finally comes down to who is on the fieldand critical decisions that are made in the heat of Are You Ready?battle. The best game plan in the world will do little ifnot supported by top-notch players who know their Agincourt Gap Analysisgame, are fully committed to the best outcome and Programwho coalesce as a powerful team under inspired Supported by leading crisisleadership. communication experts. Identify gaps, benchmark your plan against others. Agincourt Strategies 360.303.9123