Lesson 1: Why Have a Crisis Communications Drill?

By Gerard Braud 

Entergy Drill Gerard braudWould you rather screw up in public or screw up in private? That’s really what a crisis communications drill is all about. On a clear sunny day you have the ability to practice for how you will respond and behave on your darkest day.

A crisis communications drill is designed to allow you to test your crisis communications plan and your crisis communications team.  It tests how you co-exist and interact with your incident command plan, your risk management plan, and crisis management team.

In this series of articles, you will learn some of the sneaky things I like to do when I facilitate a crisis communications drill for my clients. Hopefully you will be inspired to be as sneaky in the drills you conduct.

The concept of messing up in private is foreign to many organizations. Often the people who lead companies think they can magically wing it on the day of the crisis.  They think their public relations and communication team will magically make a crisis go away with a few news releases written in the heat of the moment.

Denial among leaders and an unwillingness to invest time and money to prepare for a crisis is frustrating to many in public relations. It is frustrating to me on a daily basis as I observe the same mistakes made in a crises and news events.

Yet, many PR people have discovered, as I have, that one crisis communications drill each year can produce amazing results.

A hard hitting, anxiety filled, realistic drill puts the fear of God into executives. They get a healthy dose of reality. If the reality check shows their weakness, they are more willing to help you budget time and money for important crisis communications tools and training. They may provide funding for a properly written crisis communication plan, budget for annual media training, and for an annual crisis communications drill.

Let’s face it – the annual holiday party will cost much more than all three of these.

Tomorrow, we’ll examine the most important words you can say during a drill.