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The 10 Most Important Digital Age Crisis Lessons

RockDove Solutions is a proud sponsor of the PRSA 2019 International Conference in San Diego on Oct. 20-22.

As the context and speed in which crises unfold in the digital age shifts, so does the task of crisis preparedness.

We at RockDove Solutions are in a privileged position to understand those changes.

Every week we talk to some of the 750-plus organizations which use our In Case of Crisis mobile app. We also meet with many others who are considering how to best upgrade their issues and crisis responsiveness.

Those conversations led us to observe that there is an emerging new approach to planning. It is more direct, nimble and quicker to implement — driven by the need to move fast and effectively when the worst happens.

Here are the 10 most important digital age crisis lessons that point to a new style of preparedness planning.

  1. You need to be ready to respond quickly. Even organizations with significant resources prove how difficult it is to react effectively and quickly. You need to examine every facet of your preparedness to assess what would help or hinder a fast response.
  2. Your chances of facing a crisis are greater than you think. Deloitte reports 80 percent of organizations worldwide have had to mobilize their crisis management teams at least once in the past two years. So, if you are feeling bullet proof — it’s because you have been lucky rather than good.
  3. Your crisis plan may be too long, complex and inaccessible. The pages and pages of content are destined to languish in a dusty three-ring binder. When the threat is driven at lightning speed by social media, there is no time to read through long, complex materials. Therefore…
  4. You may need to ditch your crisis plan. Whether you work for an organization or an agency, one of the most agonizing annual rituals is the pitching of a new crisis plan. To replace the old-fashioned bulky plan in a three-ring binder, create smart response protocols to implement right now.
  5. It’s all about smart protocols. These are actionable resources to quickly guide the team’s response to any issue. Easy to read and use, they include — checklists and decision-making guidelines; crisp, clear policies for assessing quickly the level of risk; and step-by-step escalation procedures.
  6. You cannot have enough social media tools, resources and training. Even if a threat does not originate on social media, there’s a good chance it will play out there. Not only do you need monitoring and analytical resources; you also need the tools to tell your side of the story.
  7. You will try to say too much and no-one will listen. Remember KFC’s award-winning response to its crisis in the U.K.? It was an apology illustrated by the artful re-arrangement of ‘KFC’ to ‘FCK’. That’s how you break through clutter and have people pay attention!
  8. Employees are the greatest assets you will forget to deploy. There’s a growing understanding that employees can be your best advocates when bad things happen. Good examples: Starbucks in 2018 and, more recently, Sephora, closed all stores for employee diversity training.
  9. A crisis may no longer be a crisis. When Nike launched the Colin Kaepernick campaign in 2018, it knew people would protest and burn shoes. Brand loyalists loved the campaign and shoe sales went up.
  10. Every moment counts. Be prepared, run drills and training workshops. In the first 12 hours of a crisis, social drives everything — so your preparations must be social-centric. Be ready to move fast.

Chris Britton is COO of RockDove Solutions, the company behind the #1 crisis management app, In Case of Crisis, trusted by more than 750 organizations worldwide. He is hosting a breakout session focused on the “10 Most Important Digital Age Crisis Lessons” at the 2019 PRSA international Conference in San Diego on Oct. 21. The session starts at 11:20 a.m.

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Chris Britton

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