Risk, Issues & Crisis

October 13, 2016

Is communication the right verb?


Another version of this article was originally published here

Being asked to chair a panel debate recently for a room of technical product quality and safety experts on Effective crisis communication got me thinking… How do we explain the real importance of crisis communication to those who might think communication is a one-way street or worse, simply “not my job”?

Announcing a product recall in the media or putting up a recall notice in store are communication tactics. But, how do we know if they truly are effective in driving the (sometimes life-saving, certainly reputation-saving) outcomes that crisis communications demands?

We always urge our clients to think about ‘collaboration’ rather than simply communication. Indeed we have recently completed an intensive four-year training project with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Member States and EU Neighbouring countries on exactly that theme. Meanwhile, our 24/7 response team relies heavily on effective collaboration with the best in the business from laboratory testing to site security.

Only with true collaboration, and an open two-way flow of information, can you be sure that you are communicating effectively during the fast-paced pressure of a crisis.

That said, how many organisations have ever really considered the bigger picture in terms of crisis collaboration? Try asking yourself the following questions today when (hopefully!) you are not dealing with the pressure of a live crisis:

  • Who are your potential internal & external crisis collaboration partners?
  • Who is responsible for nurturing those relationships? And at what levels?
  • What inter-dependencies exist between you and your internal and external collaboration partners?
  • Are the relationships strong enough to stand the test of a tough crisis situation?
  • And, crucially, do you have a culture that makes collaboration easy or puts unintended barriers in your way?

This includes regulators, industry bodies, the scientific community, customers and consumers, and, most important of all, but often overlooked – colleagues.

So how can you be certain, in peacetime, that you have considered all the options, and have the full collaboration picture in your sights?

Instinctif Partners has this week launched a brand new diagnostic tool designed specifically to encourage collaboration and dialogue within an organisation before a crisis hits. CrisisOptic quantifies business resilience in ten key areas, from governance and risk management to operational response. Using a carefully weighted assessment system, it generates a bespoke Business Resilience Score and visual dashboard presentation based on the examination of 112 data points – which will doubtless encourage cross-functional collaboration simply to fill it in!

Its sister tool, RecallOptic, uses the same process to provide organisations with a Product Recall Readiness score. Both tools are based on recognised industry standards and can be used to inform policies, procedures and capabilities to strengthen processes and preparedness.

The response from clients involved in Beta-testing has been overwhelmingly positive, with both CrisisOptic and RecallOptic heralded as essential tools for any organisation wanting to identify where to focus their crisis mitigation efforts and offer a truly collaborative approach to crisis management.