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How Emergency Planners and Communication Teams Can Forge Stronger Crisis Management Together

A call for unity by Amanda Coleman

Dear reader,

This week we have our first guest author at Wag The Dog!

Amanda Coleman is a crisis communication specialist with more than 20 years of experience directly leading and managing disasters and emergencies.

She was the police communication lead for the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017. Amanda has written two books on crisis and issue management, provides training globally, and assists clients facing crises.

She writes articles regularly, including for the Crisis Response Journal, and speaks at conferences worldwide. Amanda graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of Bolton.

Amanda has her own newsletter called Under Pressure.

Enjoy her article, and don’t hesitate to comment and give feedback!

Kind regards, Philippe

Preparing for a crisis is something that should never be done alone.

Amanda Coleman

Silo working within organisations can be a point of failure for any crisis management plan. There are two important teams that need to work closer together than anyone else: communication and emergency planning.

Throughout my 20 years working in law enforcement, the emergency planning team were people I spoke to regularly. They knew what the risks were, where the new problems were emerging, and how the response plans were being developed.

I was able to add the communication issues, how the governance needed to work to ensure messages were shared quickly, and where the reputational risks were.

Emergency planners and communicators want the same thing. We want to minimise the impact of whatever crisis has happened and to help people in the most difficult of times. But we are often talking in different languages, which may mean a lack of connection. 

In the last two years, I have been the Chair of the UK Emergency Planning Society Communication professional working group.

Emergency planners recognise the importance of effective crisis communication and want to know more, but it can sometimes be forgotten in the development of crisis communication plans, training, and testing. 

Bringing emergency planners and communication teams together has brought huge benefits to planning and training sessions. From understanding who is doing what, the key times for actions, and how information is being shared. The world cannot be clearly delineated.

There will be calls for help made through social media, and communication needs to be there to preserve and protect lives. What matters is not who does what, but that organisations come together to provide the best possible response. 

It is time we worked more closely to ensure the plans are symbiotic and that training and exercising happen together. There is no longer a hard boundary between what is and isn’t the role of the crisis communication team.

We all need to accept, plan, and train for reality, which will help those faced with the worst moments of their lives.

Here are five things to start doing today: 

  1. Share existing crisis plans and ensure they work together

  2. Discuss the risks that relate to the business and its reputation and understand the mitigation being taken 

  3. Develop some crisis training that considers both operational actions and communication 

  4. Run an exercise with emergency planners and communication teams that allows a discussion about the actions and the decision-making approach

  5. Stop thinking in isolation 

Connect with Amanda via her LinkedIn profile or just reply to this email for feedback and comments.

Free email course for new subscribers to Wag The Dog - and you.

New subscribers to Wag The Dog can now sign up for a free 12-email course on Post-Crisis Communication Evaluation & Learning.

This part of the crisis cycle is often ignored, so I created a step-by-step approach and am giving it away for free to new subscribers.

As a reader of the Wag The Dog newsletter, you also have access to this email course. Simply check the box in the one-question survey below to enroll automatically.

What I am reading/testing/checking out:

  • Article - Predatory Sparrow and other weapons of hybrid warfare: cheap, fast, undetectable, and effective.

  • Course: How to write and research with AI (LinkedIn Course).

  • Report: The Clarity Global Crisis & Reputation Report

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I'm passionate about technology and its applications in PR and crisis communication. I use AI to help draft my articles because English isn't my first language, and it ensures clarity and coherence. I also write about the topic of AI, so using it in my own work helps me understand its capabilities. While AI assists me in drafting, I personally review and edit each article for authenticity.

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