Crisis planning is one of the most important steps business leaders can take to protect their company and its reputation. My team at Goodwin Consulting is well-known not only for executing public relations programs but also for helping businesses develop comprehensive crisis management strategies through my second company, Crisis Interception, Inc.
Creating a crisis plan may be the first step, but you can’t stop there! Just as fire drills prepare us to act quickly and intelligently in the event of a fire, crisis drills empower organizations to respond appropriately and at the right time when critical situations arise.
Crisis drills are a mandatory element of every crisis plan my team creates for clients. By simulating critical scenarios, companies strengthen their crisis response “muscles,” enhancing their ability to handle a worst-case scenario wisely and effectively.
Crisis Drills: Your Key to Crisis Planning and Preparedness
Companies with high risk profiles are especially interested in crisis training, but they aren’t the only businesses that should make crisis prep a priority. Crises hit every industry. They range from devastating, such as an employee getting injured or killed on the job, to seemingly mundane, like accidentally cutting down a historic tree.
No matter how minor or major a crisis may appear, every incident has the potential to escalate if handled inappropriately.
How crisis drills work
When I lead a client through crisis drills, my goal is to prepare them for a range of potential crisis situations and the painful publicity that often follows. During the crisis drill experience, I provide an overview of the theoretical crisis, discuss the important factors, walk through different crisis response scenarios, and help my client craft messaging that won’t alienate any particular audience segment.
In one recent crisis drill, I presented a scenario in which a transgender employee experienced discrimination. We then guided our client to form a response that would apply to any discrimination situation.
Another drill, developed for a food industry client, examined the correct response to customers falling ill after consuming the client’s product. And in a drill for a local bank, we simulated a scenario in which military personnel were posting social media complaints that the bank’s care packages had made the service members ill.
What makes crisis drills successful
Crisis drills can trigger feelings of deep discomfort in the participants. But for a drill to be effective, it must be realistic and serious—like the actual crises companies genuinely face.
In one drill, I challenged my client to craft a response to one of their company trucks hitting a bus full of teenagers. The details of the scenario were so specific that one executive couldn’t help imagining his own daughter on such a bus, nearly moving him to tears.
Real crises can and do have this level of emotional impact on company leaders, which is why CEOs and other executives must fully engage in the training. Only by committing to the intensity of crisis management can a leadership team hope to become truly prepared.
When companies neglect crisis training
There are countless real-world incidents of companies improperly responding to a crisis. One true story involves a Boston construction company that poorly managed a tragedy in which three of its workers were killed in a trench collapse.
The company’s response was inadequate, to say the least, and its neglectful communication only furthered the suffering of the victims’ loved ones. Because the company failed to respond quickly and effectively, other voices filled the void, defining the crisis in the company’s stead. Once the company had lost all control of the situation, recovery was impossible, and the negative publicity ultimately drove the business to close.
This catastrophe underscores the necessity of crisis planning. CEOs and leadership teams must become fluent in the language of crisis management and internalize a vocabulary that demonstrates their compassion and commitment to fixing the problem and the transparency to tell the world what they plan to do about it.
Crisis planning drives real results
Crisis drills train leaders to focus on problem-solving, not defending their company. Defensiveness only draws more attention to an organization’s perceived shortcomings, whereas a solution-focused approach allows a company to achieve resolution and generate positive publicity.
One of my crisis drills proved invaluable when a finance industry client was confronted with a nearly identical situation in the real world. Because they’d explored and rehearsed effective responses, this client was able to emerge from the crisis stronger than before.
Crisis Management Solutions from Goodwin Consulting
When you engage us for crisis training, you benefit from the initial crisis management resources as well as the compounding effect of ongoing crisis planning. As we annually update your plan and incorporate new crisis drills, your team becomes better equipped to handle crises and navigate unexpected challenges.
Crisis planning not only helps companies in crisis situations but also proves their preparedness when pursuing various certifications, memberships, awards, and more.
Prepare your business to handle whatever comes next. Talk to our team to learn more!