App promises to make crisis management more successful
31 October 2019
Auckland-based public relations company Wright Communications wants to change the way issues and crises are managed.
The company has launched a smartphone-based app it believes could replace conventional approaches to managing a crisis, which are generally paper-based and can fail to keep pace with a fast-breaking scenario.
Wright Communications Managing Director Nikki Wright says the digital revolution has meant a crisis affecting an organisation can become public knowledge within minutes of it occurring.
“When that happens, it’s a race to keep pace with the crisis and a speedy response can minimise reputational damage.”
Nikki says activating a paper-based crisis management system can mean a time delay and confusion when a quick and orderly response is critical. “A crisis doesn’t tell you when it’s coming, so when one does break out, the key players in the response may be a long way from the relevant files – or out of the office in the field. Getting everyone together takes time.
“There’s also generally a lot of confusion when a crisis erupts: it may not be clear what’s happened, who’s involved and where it’s taking place. Plus, you may have multiple organisations caught up in the crisis.
“In our experience, and from what we’ve seen globally in recent years, that confusion and the delays in communicating what’s happening and what’s being done about it often cause an organisation’s reputation to take a big hit. A prompt response can avert that – an issue can be resolved before it gets out of hand.”
Wright Communications sourced the phone-based app, called In Case of Crisis, from the US. Nikki says the app stores everything you need in relation to potential issues and crises on the phone, including contact lists and response protocols, and enables an organisation’s crisis management team to securely send alerts and notifications to staff members - even when the power is out.
“Your whole crisis management kit is portable, expandable and updateable –easy to access and search, and send out the comms that are needed. Almost everyone owns a smartphone. They are almost our ‘sixth sense’. Crises can happen anytime and anywhere, so a smartphone is by far the best tool to access people, to manage a situation.
“Having your crisis ‘kit’ on a single platform provides the essential ‘command and control’ function needed to effectively co-ordinate all the parties caught up in the crisis.”
Nikki says In Case of Crisis was a strong fit with the company’s expertise in sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. “Issues and crises are often caused by an organisation’s failure to take their environmental and social responsibilities seriously. Neglect of chronic issues – which are often plainly apparent to the organisation’s shareholders – can easily tip into a crisis.”
An added benefit of the In Case of Crisis app is the reduction of resource costs and use through eliminating a paper-based filing system and the need for face-to-face meetings. “The app brings all parties together and shares the information via their phones – it’s a quantum step forward.”
Nikki says Wright Communications has the New Zealand rights to market the app, which is currently used by around 750 organisations globally with an almost 100% subscription renewal rate over the last four years.
“When you consider the operational, reputational and infrastructural costs that can and do arise from a full-blown crisis, which can be in the millions of dollars, the app is a prudent investment for organisations with high risk exposure.
“We feel it will be a welcome addition to a company’s toolkit, bringing their crisis response into the 21st Century and much more in sync with the communications environment we are operating in now.”