The 10 Items That Must Be On Your Crisis Planning ‘To Do’ List in 2017


If there is anything to take from the amazing number and variety of corporate and brand crises in just the first six months of 2017, it’s that if your crisis plan is more than two years old, it’s next to useless.

The manner and speed that issues arise and then have the flames of controversy fanned means this year is not an anomaly – it’s the shape of things to come, thanks to the rise of social media, smartphone technology, the changing relationship with brands and the widespread political, social and cultural upheavals.

The roll call of brands that have faced rafts of bad publicity include GM, Lockheed Martin, Nordstrom, United Airlines, Delta, Spirit, British Airways, Adidas, Pepsi, Target, Wells Fargo, USAA, Samsung, Uber, Chipotle and Price Waterhouse Cooper.

Here are the top ten things to consider when revamping your crisis response plan in 2017:

  1. RIGHT BUT QUICK - Getting your response right is still important – but doing so quickly is just as crucial. Getting a great story out several days after the event is throwing a pebble down a deep well.
  2. SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BAD - Your old plan totally underestimates the role of social media in spreading the bad news. The first-hand videos, the conversation and interpretation is in full swing before your crisis team even gets together.
  3. SOCIAL MEDIA FOR GOOD - Your old plan also underestimates how you should be using social media to get your story out to balance the bad news.
  4. NO SURPRISES - You are not doing enough to identify, monitor and track issues, especially new and emerging threats in a changing political and cultural climate.
  5. NOT ALL THREATS ARE EQUAL - The evaluation protocol of a threat needs more nuance – doing nothing, or very little, is sometimes the best strategy, depending on the circumstance. A heavy or inappropriate response can fire the crisis.
  6. TECHNOLOGY IS ENABLING THE THREATS - There are 700 million iPhones out there all equipped with video and the means to instantly share it. That’s a far more potent force than traditional media, which is what most old crisis plans anticipate as the source of bad news.
  7. TECHNOLOGY IS NOT ENABLING YOUR DEFENSES - There’s numerous tools to alert employees, enable team collaboration, activate crisis plans and monitor events – none of which are in your old crisis plan.
  8. WHERE IS YOUR PLAN? - Surely, it’s not still in ring bound binder on a dusty office shelf, right?
  9. GETTING THE TEAM RIGHT - New threats and issues, the rise of social media and the increasing use of technology in crisis response, means that there’s new skills needed on the crisis team.
  10. GETTING THE TEAM TRAINED - More than ever, you will not get time when a crisis erupts for missteps and misunderstandings as the team fumbles with an unfamiliar situation. Run drills and workshops at least twice a year.