Updating the old fire drill

The discussion about restrictions and further lockdowns that has happened this weekend reminds us all that we are living with crisis. For communicators this means building crisis management into the daily business.

I have been developing how this can be done simply and there is one idea I would like to see a team introduce. The time is right for a crisis communication drill.

But what does that mean? It is similar to the old fire drills that we will have all been through at school or work. Fire drills are done to test people understand what they need to do in the event there is a fire. They have to know where to go, what to do and to do it at speed. It is exactly what communication teams need in the current world.

Once you have developed or revised your crisis communication plan I remind people that is not enough. What matters is that the plan is tested and that people understand what it says and what that means for them. It is no good having a plan that no-one knows. They key is regular discussion, testing and revision of it.

The crisis communication drill would be undertaken at random either quarterly or even monthly. It would depend on the amount of risk you deal with as a team.

What does it do?

It will test the speed of the response to a fictional incident. The manager will choose a suitable day and time, which will allow the test to be undertaken, and will call the scenario and add drill so people know.

The team need to then slip into the roles and detail the actions they would take. This will all be considered against a checklist detailing the immediate actions that would be expected. The beauty is that this can be done remotely as well as with people in an office.

After around 30 minutes the test would conclude and then a short debrief undertaken to identify learning points, areas for development or additional training required.

The great thing is that for an hours time in calling the drill and doing a half hour debrief there would be a huge amount of learning and development of skills within the team. For those with a high turnover of staff, with a new or inexperienced team or in a high risk business this would be a simple way of ensuring things were kept up-to-date.

In a world of uncertainty, change and crisis this would be great way to build crisis management into your work. So say goodbye to the fire drill and hello to a crisis communication drill.

If you are interested in trialling a crisis communication drill or want to learn more about how to do it just get in touch amanda@amandacolemancomms.co.uk

This entry was posted in communication, crisis communication, PR and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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