When a pebble falls into a lake you can see the impact and the ripples that grow weaker the further out you look. It is this image that simply explains one of the most important elements of crisis communication.
Consequence management is an aspect of the response that many do not see when they are working out what to do. But if you are putting people at the heart of the response then it is a fundamental strand of work. Put simply it is about identifying all those groups and individuals who are going to be affected by what has happened. You chart who they are and then ensure that appropriate support is in place for them whether that is just keeping them updated with the response or where intense support is needed for those at the centre of the incident.
It has been a concept used across policing for some time and when done well has proven to be effective in helping and supporting people. This is why I devoted a whole chapter of my book Crisis Communication Strategies to explaining consequence management and what it can bring to the communication response. This week I was given the chance to talk about it at the Global Communication Summit. I was grateful for this opportunity.
It can sound quite complex talking about stakeholder mapping, customer definition, organisational narrative and impact assessments. But this is just the route to get to the simple consequence management plan. A plan that outlines the groups and individuals, what they need in terms of support and information, how frequently they need it, and who is going to do it.
Once you have all this information you can then use the small group from the communication team, the frontline staff, the response team and other key individuals to action the work. And you keep updating this and developing the plan throughout the crisis and into recovery.
I hope that by explaining what it is and how people can integrate it into the crisis response that more organisations will revise their approach. Ensuring the affected people are supported and kept informed in an open and transparent way is critical to the crisis response. If it is to be effective this will be in place.
The challenge with Covid-19 is the scale of those that have been affected. Everyone has been touched by this crisis. It is the people who have lost loved ones that my thoughts are with. If consequence management was in place they would have a support package wrapped around them, keeping them updated and helping them through. Who would provide this though is unclear and perhaps is what needs to be considered for the future.
If you want to learn more about consequence management and how it operates get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org