The new rules for building a crisis preparedness plan

8-1If your organization doesn’t have a plan and the ability to get a tweet out in the 15 minutes after a crisis breaks, then you are not ready to operate in the new reality of the digital age.

Think that is too extreme?

Then you need to read the compelling chapter by Hill & Knowlton’s highly experienced Crisis Communications Director, Kevin Elliott, in the newly published 2nd edition of ‘The New Rules of Crisis Management’.

Kevin recalls the tragic crash of TWA flight 800 in New York on July 17, 1996.

The accident occurred just two hours’ drive from midtown Manhattan and was billed as one of the first match ups of the emerging cable news channels, particularly CNN and MSNBC.

By the standards of the day, the story moved fast in the hands of these cable TV upstarts.  Within 24 hours, there was detailed coverage of the crash and interviews with witnesses and aviation experts.

However, Kevin reflects on what did NOT happen:

What was not part of the story of TWA 800 were any measurements of the way the story was trending. There were no tweets. No-one was sharing mobile phone images of the recovery operation.”

As a reflection of how things have changed, in 2017 the revised guidelines from the NTSB, the organization responsible for airline safety, suggest that an airline is expected to acknowledge an accident involving one of their aircraft within, yes, 15 minutes.

Still think it is too extreme?

How would your organization’s crisis plan perform in an age where speed and agility of response are everything?

In ‘The New Rules of Crisis Management’, Kevin establishes the three essential considerations for a crisis response plan:

  1. Plans need to be based on solid, fundamental structures but based on the time in which we live.
  2. In the first 12 hours of an incident today, social channels will drive everything. Therefore, the incident response plan needs to be social centric.
  3. Be ready and able to move fast. Being in the conversation at the outset will change the equation for a company responding to a crisis. If you are not driving the story, someone else will be.

Kevin digs in behind those three essential considerations and shares how you build on them to create a world-class crisis plan.

And he points out the advantages for those who understand the new rules.

In a more recent airline incident, on August 3, 2016, Emirates flight #521 had a hard landing on its arrival in Dubai. The plane caught fire which was broadcast live on social media by passengers in the terminal.

Emirates was prepared.

Within 29 minutes it had issued a statement, posted on Twitter.

At around the same time, it published a banner on its website to provide information.

A short while later it confirmed the number of passengers and crew, even as firefighters did their job.

Within four hours, the Chairman had a statement up on YouTube in English and Arabic.

Emirates had put itself in charge of its own narrative.

To read more about Kevin’s guide on how to build a crisis plan for the digital age, the newly published 2nd edition of the ‘The New Rules of Crisis Management’ is available for free download.