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Crisis Communications Training Exercises to Implement

Published on February 23, 2022

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Crisis management training is crucial for ensuring the organisation's survival — regardless of the industry in which it operates. Without it, employees might quickly find themselves unable to solve unexpected issues, making the recovery process even more stressful than it should be. For this reason, many business owners decide to conduct regular training exercises, allowing them to test the company's crisis plan and make necessary changes.

Although the type of simulation exercises the organisation should conduct largely depends on its crisis communication plan, some training sets are beneficial in almost every imaginable scenario. They constitute the backbone of business continuity and disaster recovery strategies, making the process of developing new solutions and recognising potential threats much more manageable.

Besides being an essential part of the company's defences against a crisis, these exercises allow staff members to improve their teamwork skills, make a realistic estimate of downtime costs, and test the newly acquired tools.

Here are the indispensable training practices every enterprise should carry out on a regular basis.

Crisis Management Team Planning Sessions

First of all, the enterprise should ensure everyone knows what to do when facing new crises. Thanks to it, when the crisis situation happens, the company's director can rest assured that no one will panic. One of the best ways to do that is by organising crisis management meetings.

During these meetings, the senior managers and the rest of the crisis response team can create response procedures and evaluate if the organisation can handle a crisis independently. Furthermore, these meetings may address other issues, such as using social media channels during a crisis, the fastest way of sharing bad news with stakeholders, and the most effective method of communicating with clients during downtime.

All participants who join these planning sessions can improve their understanding of crisis communication and learn which teams are responsible for recovery tasks. As a result, they can become crisis experts, potentially joining the crisis response team and making it more robust.

Identification of Potential Threats

Another excellent training method is to engage all of the company's teams in search of potential threats. It allows the business to have an easier time dealing with a crisis, as a known threat is less dangerous than an unknown one.

Crisis communication trainers can present employees with some challenges other organisations had to deal with and share the solutions they used. Next, everyone involved in the training can brainstorm a similar emergency or two that might happen to their enterprise.

This exercise is usually the first step in creating successful crisis communications plans. Overall, it makes for an excellent solution to fill the gaps in the company's defences and determine key messages it needs to deliver once a crisis is unstoppable.

Event Simulation

No crisis plan can be regarded as good without putting it up to the test. After all, handling an ongoing emergency in real-time is much different from estimating crucial elements for efficient crisis communication while sitting comfortably in a chair.

Because of this, crisis communication teams should practice following the organisation's crisis plans. For instance, they can carry out random social media simulations or prepare the most probable scenario that might unfold in the case of a given enterprise.

Through these simulation exercises, management teams can determine if the crisis team has the confidence and skills to deliver satisfactory results. Moreover, depending on how it responds to the unfolding events, managers can pinpoint areas that need improvement and react accordingly.

Tabletop Exercises

Finally, the crisis communications team should look into tabletop exercises. This way, it can test how organisational communication works during times of crisis and estimate if the solutions developed by the company succeed in practice.

This type of training focuses on pondering over problem areas, such as the inability to communicate with leaders in challenging times or the failure to preserve the business's reputation during crises. It presents practical issues the crisis communications team needs to solve within a given time frame.

It is an excellent solution for all businesses, as it offers the necessary space to take a closer look at a given emergency in a non-threatening environment. No crisis communication plan is final until it is put through a set of tabletop exercises that test its limits and weaknesses.

The Bottom Line

No company or government agency can effectively fulfil its role without a sound crisis communications plan. Consequently, conducting crisis management training is an essential part of running an enterprise — it is the best method of developing innovative strategies and testing the existing ones.

Whether it is social media simulations or other crisis exercises, every organisation needs to train its staff on what to expect and how to respond in case of an emergency. This way, every staff member will be prepared to deal with the problem.

A tested crisis plan adapted to modern media can be the difference between success and failure. Providing more information on already-established procedures through exercise can be only beneficial, so there is no reason why even large businesses would avoid doing so.