Prodding the public sector resilience planning beast | Mantis Public Relations

Prodding the public sector resilience planning beast

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Today’s PR Week mail has a reasonably timely write-up of a PRCA debate called the ‘Year of resilience’ which took place recently. With the Jubilee and the Olympics, speakers such as Gavin Megaw from the corporate affairs agency Hanover  called for public sector comms teams and connected agencies to meet the Government’s challenge to invest in responsible planning for such events. 

I agree. Having a plan and being able to show what you will do if things move speedily, scarily or downright wrongly, is very important. However, I think what’s really important is having the courage to practice handling these situations. Role playing crisis situations in the public, the media, and especially now, on social media, is the first thing I think the public sector should put on any resilience plan. 

Potentially, there could be some massively hairy issues to deal with for local councils, public sector bodies and private companies during the Olympics. For example, I live in Wapping. We already know that our local buses will not run during the games, and that our already rotten broadband will crawl to a halt thanks to extra bandwidth pressure. How do I know this? Twitter. Who from? Not the providers themselves. A potentially high-risk communications situation. 

During the games, comms teams will be stretched and nerves will be high. A simple crisis simulation, structured around a likely issue and played out in real time over a couple of hours, can really help with people having to deal with the angry calls, texts and Tweets from the media and the public. It can show you that you are totally capable of handling the issue. It can highlight the gaps in your experience and ensure that when the time comes, you’ve got them covered. Plus, I’ve created a fair few of these, from exploding factories to poisoned dishwashers, and I know that it can be a fun and helpful team exercise. 

Really hoping that resilience planning for many organisations includes such activities, so that staff feel confident, and that we citizens get increased information flow in what are bound to be fast-paced times in 2012!

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