Crisis Management Exercise

Brief: To create a dynamic and interactive conference session with learning objectives focused around internal and external communications techniques.

Location: Pomme d'Or Hotel, St Helier, Jersey

Solution: We created a realistic disaster situation in great detail, and kept the whole thing a secret until the delegates arrived. The scenario was that their three most senior Directors had gone missing after an event the previous night, and a search and rescue operation was underway. The tables were numbered, and each number related to a specific task (Business Continuity, Social Media, Liaison with Journalists, Personnel etc). Delegates were invited to sit at the table where they felt they could contribute the most, and a ‘Command & Control’ group was tasked with ensuring that each group had viable numbers. Working groups were equipped with laptops and given basic instructions and suggestions to get them started. 

This is an Exercise slide

In order to keep the situation interesting there was a carefully-timed narrative to the whole session which kept events moving rapidly. Additional information was provided through e-mails, phone calls and tweets, and pressure points ranged from the MD’s wife threatening legal action over social media slander to the company’s bank advising that there was money missing from the corporate account. Every intervention was designed to develop the narrative, and to challenge the delegates and keep them busy.

We used actors to represent TV and newspaper journalists and the police, and our whole team got involved in placing phone calls to delegates to keep up the pressure. An extensive closed network of Facebook and Twitter accounts was created especially for the exercise, and these were projected onto large screens around the conference room. Delegates elected spokespeople to take part in TV and newspaper interviews, which were played back during the debrief the following morning. 

 Crisis Management Exercise

Challenges: Setting up the social media accounts for this event was technically challenging and time consuming. Also, the schedule was carefully planned for the exercise and many parts of the storyline were interlinked, so we had to work very hard to manage our team and stay on time throughout the exercise. 

Favourite moments: Delegates of all ages gave us great feedback, and almost everyone walked away with new knowledge, or practical ideas on how they could reduce their corporate exposure to risk. It was great hearing everyone’s positive comments, but our favourite moment came at the end of the session when we pulled back a partition wall to reveal the three ‘missing’ Directors, who had actually been sat watching and listening to everything that had happened during the session – the delegates were genuinely surprised and delighted to see them!   

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