Crisis Management – Are You Stuck in an Analog World?

    

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You get the call at 6pm on the Friday of a holiday weekend.

Your IT Manager has just discovered that the organization has suffered a major compromise of its data from an external party. It’s unclear how long it’s been going on or what information has been stolen.

Your job is to get the Crisis Management Team up and running and tackling the threat.

Activating the Crisis Team

ANALOG: The 3-ring binder containing the crisis plan, including contact details of the team, is back in the office. You start calling and emailing team members one by one asking them in turn to alert colleagues for whom you don’t have contact details. Several people are new to the company since the plan was created and had little idea they were on the crisis team.

DIGITAL: You open the ‘In Case of Crisis’ app on your smartphone. The app gives you the ability to immediately send an alert with brief details of the threat to every member of the team. Wherever they are, you are confident they will have their mobile device with them.

Setting up a Team Conference Call

ANALOG: You send a second email to the team with details of a conference call you are hosting at 8pm. You have no idea who is available at such short notice on a Friday evening.

DIGITAL: Via the ‘in Case of Crisis’ platform, you instantly send all team members the bridge to a pre-loaded conference call number. You also send an instant poll to get feedback on who will be joining the call. The call takes place within an hour of the first news of the threat.

Accessing the Crisis Response Plan

ANALOG: Very few members of the crisis team had hauled the 3-ring binder containing the crisis plan with them on a holiday weekend. You are frantically trying to copy and paste the relevant sections into a briefing document – while not knowing whether the organization’s email has been compromised in the data leak. It’s going to be a couple of hours before you can get the team up to speed.

DIGITAL: All team members have access to an actionable version of the crisis plan via the ‘In Case of Crisis’ app on their smartphones. On the conference call, the team reviews the plan and agrees how to proceed.

Implementing the Plan & Assigning Tasks

ANALOG: You finally got everyone up to speed with the incident and the approved crisis plan for such a situation. The team members on the call all took responsibility for their own next steps, but there were crucial members not on the call who you will have to track down, brief individually and agree their actions. Once you have done that, you’ll send yet another email summarizing all the actions, who owns them and asking people to report back regularly on progress.

DIGITAL: The ‘In Case of Crisis’ platform has a feature for sharing checklists to which all the team has access and which the team uses to report and keep track of progress on all aspects of the crisis management effort. The crisis lead can see at any given moment the status of every part of the response.

Collaborating on managing the threat

ANALOG: Calls and emails are coming in from all directions. Some members of the team are using Slack to communicate with each other because that’s what they use in the office. Another sub-set of the crisis team appear to have set up their own WhatsApp group. It’s tough for any one person to track what’s happening and make clear decisions.

DIGITAL: The entire crisis team communicates and collaborates using the secure chat room on the ‘In Case of Crisis’ app. Conversation trails can be archived or deleted, according to the needs of the situation. The app can also link to external information sources such as email and the organization’s intranet. The team is working together efficiently with full transparency and swift decision making.

Post-Crisis Reporting and Analysis

ANALOG: It’s a lengthy and tedious process to go over all the many conversations, actions, decisions and processes that happened in so many different places to create a report for senior management and recommend how future crises might be handled more effectively.

DIGITAL: The ‘In Case of Crisis’ platform has Situation Reports.  It lists completed tasks, catalogs incident reports, outbound communications and, if appropriate, chat logs. It has all the data you need on which to base a report and make recommendations.

So, are you still in the Analog world for crisis management? Are you ready to move over into the Digital world?

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About The Author

Mike Hatcliffe is founder and president of The Hatcliffe Group, a reputation, issues and crisis consultancy. Previously, Mike spent nearly 25 years with two of the world's leading PR agencies. Most recently, he spent 10 years at Ogilvy, as managing director of its US corporate practice, and before that 14 years with Ketchum in both the US and the UK. Mike has worked on crisis and reputation assignments with a range of blue chip companies, leaders in their fields, including LG Electronics, Wells Fargo, Carlsberg, Zebra Technologies, CDW, Quintiles, Rockwell Automation, Unilever, Pepsico, Deloitte, Grant Thornton and HSBC.