Five key skills for a good spokesperson? Read our blog

Five key skills for a good spokesperson? Read our blog

Five key skills for a good spokesperson? Read our blog

Five key skills for a good spokesperson? Read our blog

BLOG - Our colleagues in the line of fire: crisis simulation

In the world of crisis management, nothing is as valuable as experience and practice. At Charly PR, we understand that theory only gets you so far; the real test comes when the pressure mounts. That’s why we love to dive deep with clients into real crisis simulations. This sharpens their skills for when a crisis truly strikes.

And of course, we do the same with our own teams. Want a preview of what you would experience during our crisis simulation? Then let us take you through our latest internal crisis simulation, led by crisis communications experts Johan and Karolien (in the roles of trainer, management, journalists, and receptionist).

 

"I learned much more during the crisis simulation than during all the theoretical trainings combined – although they did provide the perfect preparation. Especially learning to make decisions under pressure was of great value."

Bo - PR Consultant

 

2 PM: Briefing 

The invitation was clear: ‘At 2 PM sharp, all participants ready for briefing!’ So everybody is on time, and the tension is palpable in the room. Participants are immediately divided into teams of no more than five people. Until 5 PM, each group will act as the crisis communication team of fictional organization X. Each team also assigns roles to the members: crisis manager, spokesperson, copywriter, or media monitor. They are on edge, ready to take on the challenge.

The briefing reveals a delicate situation: a high-profile executive has been accused by a colleague of sexual misconduct. The situation is known internally on a need-to-know basis and has not yet leaked. An independent investigation is underway, while the accused remains active in the organization.

2:15 PM: Questions & action plan

The teams retreat to their crisis room and get 15 minutes to ask questions and prepare: what is their action plan, which key messages do they advise, will they communicate proactively or reactively?

2:30 PM: Journalist on the phone! 

Just as the teams are fully engaged with their advice and strategy, they are startled by the spokesperson’s phone: it’s a journalist from a popular newspaper! The journalist has heard a rumor of an internal sexual assault case and wants to know more. “Is the organization aware of this?”, “Are the accusations true?”, “What are you going to do?”… For the spokespersons, it feels very real: with hardly any time to think, they must deal with tough questions, navigating between transparency and discretion… Fortunately, the copywriters had their holding statement ready, and the spokespersons could rely on that.

2:45 PM: The article appears…

And although it’s pretty neutral, public opinion has its own opinion. Angry comments appear under the article, and there is also a stir on social media: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. The management contacts the crisis teams: advice is expected within 15 minutes.

The teams deliberate. How does this development affect our strategy? What else should we consider? One of the teams advises to temporarily suspend the director. Management refuses.

 

“We were full of adrenaline and completely ‘on’! The crisis felt real, and the trainers were also fully in their roles. It was exciting and educational. Despite the stress, it was also fun, it felt like a team-building. In a few hours, I learned heaps.""

Kim - PR Consultant

 

3:00 PM: The results of the investigation come in. 

The director has indeed committed serious misconduct. Several witnesses have confirmed this, and more complaints are coming in. In principle, this report is confidential.

Management asks for advice again. While the crisis comms team assesses the implications of the findings, comments on social media keep coming in. The media monitors are busy keeping track of everything. Meanwhile, the crisis managers of all teams insist on suspending the director. Management agrees.

3:20 PM: Panic at the Reception! 

The teams get no rest. Just when they want to submit the revised statement, the next test awaits. The receptionist calls. She’s panicking. There’s a TV news crew at her desk. The journalist is asking all sorts of tough questions, and she doesn’t know what to do. One team immediately goes downstairs to speak to the journalist, the other hesitates: they have just received the results of the investigation and want to consult with management first about whether they can communicate about it.

And so the crisis simulation continues. In the end, the teams come together and evaluate the advice, statements, and decisions. Johan and Karolien witness the dedication and enthusiasm of the participants, who were fully immersed in the simulation. For the trainers, it was also a challenge, switching between the roles of management, journalist, frightened receptionist, and camera crew.

But this experience especially emphasizes the importance of practical exercises in crisis communications. By diving into a crisis simulation, you learn so much as an advisor, you know what it feels like to go through a crisis as a part of a company. You learn to act under pressure, to speak to journalists…

Do you also want to immerse your team in a crisis simulation?

And at the same time strengthen your team bonds? Then contact us for more information!

 

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