Three (More) Things You Must Do When Your Event Crisis Management Plan is "Finished"
Developing a crisis management plan for a meeting or event takes a lot of work and coordination and finishing it is a serious accomplishment. What are you going to do with that plan now that it's finished? Sure, you'll send it around to the C-Suite and other relevant parties, who will no doubt congratulate you (deservedly) on a job well done. Go ahead and pat yourself and your team on the back, but this is no time to rest on your laurels because the job is far from over.
With the planning completed, you still have three important things to do...
1. Make sure everyone is aware and trained on the plan
Who needs to know about and access this plan? Everyone and anyone who will be working on the event, whether on-site or off. Responding in a timely manner to any crisis or disruption is critical, so the staff has to be able to access information quickly and easily...
In order to do so, they should be briefed on the crisis management plan and its contents to familiarize them with everything. This should include a review of the plan contents, especially emergency response activities. Everyone should understand who's in charge of what and get an explanation of what each of their roles would be in any crisis.
But that may not be enough. In a crisis, it's been said that everyone's IQ goes to zero, so accessing the crisis management plan should be as simple as possible. It cannot be more difficult than running for the door.
Notebooks are often used to access the plan and can be effective, but they often are misplaced or left at the office. You can place some in strategic locations onsite as long as people are briefed on where they are.
But this is the 21st century and electronic/digital options are available. You can post the crisis management plan online and make sure everyone knows how to access it, and hope your internet connection doesn't fail. Or, you can use an option such as Attainium's Event-Aware. This combination of mobile app and web portal, downloadable on iOS or Android devices, is designed to put all the most important crisis-response tools in the palm of your hand.
2. Test the Plan
Once everyone is familiar with the crisis management plan, it's time to test it.
Why test your plan? There's the obvious reason, of course - to make sure it works. But testing also helps ensure that everyone who has a role in implementing the crisis management plan for the conference or meeting is aware of his or her job. This also gives you the opportunity to evaluate everyone involved and to determine how to improve their skills, if necessary.
The crisis management plan should be a dynamic document and needs to evolve to reflect changes in the environment, staffing, policies, and procedures. If you don't do the work to keep it up to date, you might as well toss it after a few months.
It's a major challenge to keep your crisis management plan updated, but that plan is critical to your ability to keep your event - and, most important, your people - safe. A carefully constructed plan can save lives, prevent total chaos in the face of a crisis or disaster, and is a critical tool to guide to protecting your event's reputation and living to plan the next event.
Testing also helps identify deficiencies in the crisis management plan and helps confirm that all contingencies have been covered. It's important, therefore, to hold some sort of debriefing session to get everyone's feedback on what happened during the testing.
You should identify specifics: what worked, what didn't, what could have worked better, etc. Does the plan satisfy any policies or legal requirements? Is there a process to keep the plan updated?
Keep good records of this session and feed the results back into the plan. (Remember to debrief after the event also and use the feedback to improve the next crisis management plan.)
And lastly, make sure to take all of the valuable knowledge and insight from these debriefings and work them back into your plan, as well ass your training and awareness programs.
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