Digital Age Crisis Lessons #10: The Importance of Planning Ahead


You’ve created a sophisticated crisis plan to anticipate and respond to the risks.

Now, how do you know the plan works?

That was the dilemma faced by the communications team at the Farm Credit Council, the national trade association for 73 financial institutions, with a mission to support rural communities and agriculture in the US.

The Council had updated the crisis communications plan, storing it in an easily accessible way on our In Case of Crisis app and ensuring everyone had the ability to be connected in the event of a national crisis.

But the tools are only as good as knowing how to use them. 

And there were stiff challenges to ensuring a coordinated crisis response. Each of the 73 institutions has its own IT system, with robust firewalls, making it difficult to ensure communications reached participants.

So, the team at the Farm Credit Council designed and delivered an organization-wide, national crisis response exercise in September 2018.

The all-day exercise was built on a realistic crisis scenario that involved as many people as possible from across the Farm Credit network and asked them to contribute to the response.

It was hugely successful:

  • 250 people downloaded the crisis plan ahead of the exercise.
  • 180 downloaded one of the updates during the exercise.
  • 130 people joined the exercise conference call.
  • 39 of the participating institutions sent press statements, as requested.

The Farm Credit story is the perfect illustration of how to make sure your organization is ready and able to manage a crisis by doing the right things now, long before any catastrophe occurs.

Everything we have talked about in the previous nine lessons of this blog series, points to steps that you must take to improve your team’s readiness and the plan’s robustness. In particular:

  • Be prepared, run team drills and training workshops.
  • In the first 12 hours of a crisis, social media drives everything. Your preparations must be social-centric.
  • Be ready and able to move fast. If you are not driving the story, someone else is.

Good luck – we live in an increasingly uncertain world with new and emerging risks heightening the need for strong issues and crisis preparedness.

In your moment of threat, we hope that these ten lessons will help protect your organization from reputation harm and business disruption.

This is #10 and the final entry in an occasional series of blogs under the overall theme of ‘The Ten Digital Age Crisis Management Lessons for Everyone’.

Find the #1 lesson here.

Find the #2 lesson here.  

Find the #3 lesson here.

Find the #4 lesson here.

Find the #5 lesson here.

Find the #6 lesson here.

Find the #7 lesson here.

Find the #8 lesson here.

Find the #9 lesson here.