Crisis management training pays dividends when the heat is on

July 2, 2013 by Jonathan Hemus

I awoke on July 1 to the sight of a large, black smoke cloud filling the sky beyond Birmingham City Centre. It turned out it was coming from a fire at a waste recycling plant and was described as one of the biggest ever blazes tackled by West Midlands firefighters.

The fire service is in the business of crisis management and as such, they demonstrate the benefits of crisis management training, exercising and scenario planning.  It is this preparation and practice that makes them so well equipped to deal with the most challenging of situations on a daily basis.

But what about regular organisations unexpectedly caught up in a crisis?  It was revealing that for almost a whole day, the BBC, the Guardian and other media outlets reported that Jayplas (which owns the plant) was “unavailable for comment”.  Whilst the cause of the fire – apparently a Chinese lantern – could not be blamed on the site owner, that doesn’t remove the imperative for them to engage in swift and effective crisis communication.

Communicating effectively in a crisis requires planning and preparation beforehand with elements such as reputational risk assessments, scenario planning, crisis media training and crisis simulations. Otherwise, the business is liable to be paralysed when struck by crisis and absent from the ensuing discussion.  That’s a dangerous position to be in as the video below describes.

No organisation can ever remove the risk of a crisis striking their operation.  But by engaging in thorough crisis management planning they can be ready to respond quickly and professionally if the worst ever occurs.  Doing so can mean the difference between business continuity and a business which goes up in smoke.

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