Crisis Management Plans

A crisis can put tremendous stress–organizationally and psychologically–on leaders, stress, which can be alleviated by having confidence in a well thought out and strategically aligned response process.

Blue Moon Consulting Group’s senior team members have developed hundreds of crisis management plans for some of the most prestigious institutions of higher education, for Fortune 10 to FTSE 500 companies and non-profit organizations.

Whether revitalizing an existing yet atrophied plan or starting from scratch, our collaborative planning approach helps ensure fast, cross-functional buy-in and support.  Our years of experience both providing real-time crisis advice and in developing plans mean that planning sessions provide a tremendous venue for knowledge transfer and learning.  And our thorough understanding of core principles of business continuity planning, emergency response planning, a variety of issue-specific incident response plans, as well as crisis communications means that the alignment and coordination between different—and typically siloed—response areas will be clear and defined.

Through a combination of collaborative client working sessions and our experience, BMCG’s clients receive comprehensive, all-risk crisis management plans that can withstand today’s hyper-competitive and highly-scrutinized and sometimes cynical operating environment.

While the specifics are tailored to each organization based on size, complexity, culture, recent experience as well as leadership expectations, all plans address the following critical aspects of effective crisis management:

  • Response Structure & Team Roles—provides clarity and alignment in the roles and responsibilities of different teams which may become activated to respond to an issue or event as well as defining leadership, authorities, core membership, specific functional roles and responsibilities, back-up, and extended team membership
  • Issue and Event Reporting & Escalation Process—overcomes typical reluctance to share “bad news” and provides consistent, fault-free, criteria and process to flag issues and events which could pose significant reputational risk to the organization
  • Team Operations—defines when and how teams become engaged, a consistent, predictable, and efficient meeting process; working tools to help ensure accountability and clarity on decisions made; and a proactive approach
  • Crisis Communications—while detailed crisis communications plans are typically addressed separately, a high-level understanding of communications policies and procedures is important for all to understand
  • Plan Maintenance and Improvement—defines agreed expectations regarding training, exercising, plan updates, as well as lessons learned procedures to continually improve team membership understanding and crisis capability.

Crisis Communications Plans

Effective communications will shape your stakeholders’ perception of the adequacy of your response and decision-making. Meeting the communications expectations of varied stakeholders is a large and, if not properly managed, overwhelming task. Likewise, missteps in communications can have an outsized influence and significantly damage the credibility of the organization and its management team.

Our Crisis Communications Plans (CCP) are designed for an extended Crisis Communications Team (CCT) to include communications professionals across the institution. The CCP helps to ensure:

  • Fast and expeditious approval of messaging at the time of an issue or crisis
  • Defined team operations to enable consistent and coordinated messaging that extends across stakeholder, including faculty, staff, students, alumni & external relations (media, web, social)
  • Rules of engagement for non-communications staff who may have to face media
  • Various tools and forms for effective team operations as well as to institutionalize messaging and response
  • Defined feedback loops to incorporate into both communications’ strategy as well as overall crisis management response
  • Pre-agreed and approved messaging for a specific number of issues / risks to expedite response at time of event, including holding statements, hard Q&As etc.
  • Clear alignment and effective coordination between communications teams and any other activated response team including the crisis management team.
  • Plans to respond to large number of media descending on campus for an extended period of time, including setting up a media/joint information center.

Emergency Operations Plans

One of the most common mistakes institutions make is to equate emergency with crisis management.

But where crisis management defines the process to manage the broader impacts and consequences of a full range of events and issues; emergency management defines the process to manage the response to specific, physical event itself including:

  • Saving/Protecting Lives
  • Protecting University Environment, Systems, Property and Critical Programs
  • Restoring Operations, and
  • Supporting Community Needs

Our plans use an “all-hazards” approach—a scalable, consistent management process to respond to a full range of risks and are consistent with the Incident Command System (ICS) in alignment with the intent and purpose of FEMA’s National Incident Management System (NIMS).  And in them we clearly delineate but align the roles of the Emergency Operations Team (EOT) as well as the Crisis Management (CMT) and Crisis Communications (CCT) Teams in responding to emergencies.