If crisis were to strike your company tomorrow, would you be ready? Melissa Agnes helps organizations prevent and manage their issues before they become catastrophic, with the aim of never having them become catastrophic at all. Her powerful, customized presentations provide tools and strategies that create a proactive, crisis-ready corporate culture, ready to respond to whatever may arise. In this column for Forbes, Melissa looks at three crisis management strategies to implement in 2017:
Every year presents news-worthy, impactful organizational crises, and 2017 will be no different. So, as you embark on this new year and all the goal-setting, planning and projections that comes along with it, it’s worth taking into account some note-worthy trends that have a high-likelihood of impacting the risk that your organization will face in 2017.
Following are three important crisis management trend projections that are worth discussing with your team and incorporating into your crisis preparedness program, over the coming months.
1. The Live-Streaming Trend Will Continue, Presenting Additional Risk – And Opportunity – To Your Crisis Management
The act of live-streaming crisis situations started to become more of a commonality in 2016. It initially caught the world’s attention when Philando Castile’s girlfriend used Facebook Live to live-stream the aftermath of Castile’s shooting by a police officer, in July. Since then, we’ve seen a few additional cases of live-streamed crises, which is a trend that we’ll continue to see in 2017.
What Does This Mean For Your Organization?
Contrary to popular belief, the real risk of a live-streamed crisis is not the real-time aspect of it. With the help of mobile technology and social media, people have long-since had the opportunity to record a video and quickly upload and publish it to the platform of their choice within minutes. So real-time is not the new risk.
The new risk that live-streaming presents to your crisis management is the perception of transparency that it gives to your stakeholders and the general public. When an incident is live-streamed, viewers watching the live-stream feel as though they’re seeing the un-edited incident through their own eyes, in real-time, which gives the perception that what they’ve witnessed is the whole story. When this is used against your organization, the challenge then becomes to effectively counter this perceived truth and position your organization as the source of trusted information throughout the management of the crisis.
When a live-streamed video presents an emotionally compelling story against your organization, it will take even more work to counter the narrative and to reach the hearts of your stakeholders with your important information – in other words, your “side” of the story.
Crisis-Ready Takeaway: Take the time to discuss this risk and its impact with your crisis management team. Together, you should look at which of your high-risk scenarios could potentially be live-streamed, the challenges that this would present to your crisis management, and the action steps and communication strategies you would leverage to successfully manage the incident.
Additional Takeaway: While live-streaming can present additional risks and challenges to your crisis management, it can also present some interesting opportunities when leveraged properly. If live-streaming gives the perception of transparency, how can you use this to your advantage in your crisis management and prevention? This is also a question worth discussing and answering with your team.
2. Cybersecurity And Workplace Violence Will Continue To Be Amongst The Leading High-Risk Scenarios For Organizations
Every organization has a number of high-risk scenarios that present the most likely types of crises they’ll encounter. Part of being crisis-ready means spending the time to identify the high-risk scenarios that apply to your organization, and to plan and prepare for them.
While this list varies from industry to industry, and from company to company, there are two growing high-risk scenarios that pertain to just about every organization – and these two high-risk scenarios will, unfortunately, continue to be amongst the leading threats in 2017. They include: cybersecurity and workplace violence.
Crisis-Ready Takeaway: Be sure to incorporate these two risks within your crisis preparedness program. What does this mean? It means setting time aside to discuss these risks with the appropriate members of your team, and to:
• Ensure you are actively doing what you can to prevent them from happening in the first place; and
• Develop everything from internal escalation protocols, department-specific action steps and communication strategies, to quickly leverage in the event that you find yourself faced with this type of crisis scenario.
Doing, what I call a “deep-dive,” into each of these risks is the best way to mitigate, plan and prepare for them. This type of exercise takes time and resources, but is well worth the effort in the event that one (or both) of these types of crises strike your organization.
3. Twitter Fatigue Will Impact Your Crisis Management
Experts have been predicting the end of Twitter for a while now. And while the social media platform will most likely not vanish in 2017, the fact that stakeholders are becoming less enthralled with the platform in their daily activity, has strong potential to impact your crisis management – and should definitely impact your approach to crisis preparedness.
Let me explain.
For the past several years, Twitter has been the leading platform when it comes to the dissemination of news, information and discussions during times of crisis. And while the platform continues to position itself as the “people’s news network”, the fact that people – i.e. your stakeholders – are starting to choose other platforms as their preferred platforms of choice for their daily interactions, can impact your strategy for communication during times of crisis.
Time will tell what really happens with Twitter and how this growing change will impact your stakeholders’ behavior in a crisis, but it’s worth discussing now, before the change fully sets in.
Crisis-Ready Takeaway: If Twitter successfully positions itself as the go-to platform for real-time news, but stakeholders continue to choose other platforms for their everyday interactions, the following is worth discussing with your team:
• What are the “other platforms” that your stakeholders are / will continue to flock to, and how does this impact your crisis communication strategy?
• Will your stakeholders still turn to Twitter in times of crisis for real-time news and media updates? If so, how does this impact your crisis communication strategy?
• If reporters, bloggers and media outlets continue to use Twitter, how does this impact your media monitoring and the strategic dissemination of your crisis communications, with the goal of positioning your organization as the credible source of information throughout the crisis?
Leveraging social media to your advantage in a crisis is about finding strategic and effective ways to communicate with your stakeholders when it matters most. So, keeping your eyes open to any upcoming changes in the way your key stakeholders use Twitter in both their everyday use and in times of crisis, is important for your crisis preparedness.
What Does All Of This Mean For Your Organization?
More than ever before, crisis preparedness – and implementing a crisis-ready corporate culture – should be made a priority in 2017. Trends, fads and user activity continue to evolve, while risks continue to increase and complicate. Being crisis-ready means understanding all aspects that will impact your crisis preparedness and crisis management, and taking proactive steps, every day, to be prepared, vigilant and resilient.