ISO 22361:2022: Aligning crisis communication with international best practises

Discover how ISO 22361:2022 aids organizations in aligning crisis communication with global best practices.

Dear reader,

Apologies for being a day late with this edition of Wag The Dog but I have been traveling extensively and my deadline slipped.

In this edition of your weekly newsletter we’ll look into the crisis management standard ISO 22361:2022 and how it applies to crisis communication.

I am also listing some events (conferences and workshops) where I’ll be present so if you’re around, let me know and let’s meet!

Kind regards from ☀️35°C Portugal.

Table of Contents

From pandemics to geopolitical conflicts, effective crisis management has never been more important. ISO 22361:2022, a comprehensive standard for crisis management, provides crisis and emergency communication professionals with valuable insights to align their strategies with general crisis management best practises.

Understanding the context of ISO 22361:2022

ISO 22361:20221 emphasises a structured approach to crisis management. It defines a crisis as a unique, rare or unforeseen event that presents an organisation with exceptional challenges. Unlike incidents, crises often have:

1. Greater urgency and pressure

2. Far-reaching effects that affect the entire organisation

3. Significant public and media interest

4. Potential for negative reputational impact

For communications specialists, this context emphasises the need for flexible, strategic and sustained communications efforts during crises.

Key components for crisis communicators

1. Crisis management plan (CMP)

The standard advocates a concise crisis management plan that should be understood, implemented and practised before a crisis occurs. For communicators, the CMP should include the following:

  • Crisis communication strategies (both internal and external)

  • Templates for situation reports and records of decisions

  • Details of the structure and role of the crisis management team (CMT)

2. Information management and shared situational awareness

ISO 22361:2022 stresses the importance of information management to ensure shared situational awareness. Communication specialists should focus on this:

  • Establishing policies and procedures to develop a shared understanding among leadership, employees and key stakeholders

  • Identifying, collecting and analysing relevant crisis information

  • Presenting information to decision makers in an appropriate and timely manner

  • Managing communication within the organisation and externally

3. Training and validation

The standard emphasises the need for training and validation of crisis management skills. For communication teams, this means, among other things

  • Participating in exercises to ensure communication plans are fit for purpose

  • Developing skills to create and maintain shared situational awareness

  • Improving skills to identify and communicate effectively with stakeholders, media and the public

  • Improve skills to defend against threats to the organisation's integrity, brand, values and reputation

Align communication plans with ISO 22361:2022

To align crisis communication plans with the standard, you should consider the following steps:

1. Review and update: Review your current crisis communication plan against the requirements of the standard. Ensure that it includes strategies for internal and external communication and that it's integrated into the overall crisis management plan.

2. Improve information management: Develop processes for collecting, analysing and disseminating crisis information. Focus on creating a shared situational awareness among all stakeholders.

3. Strengthen communication with media and stakeholders: Ensure your plan includes strategies for effective communication with the media and key stakeholders during a crisis. Develop templates and guidelines for rapid response.

4. Integration into the crisis management team: Clarify the role of communications specialists within the crisis management team structure. Ensure clear responsibilities and accountabilities for crisis communication decisions.

5. Conduct training and exercises: Develop a training programme to improve crisis communication skills, including scenario-based exercises that test and validate your communication strategies.

6. Flexibility: While a structured plan is important, the standard also emphasises the need for flexibility and improvisation during a crisis. Make sure your communications team is prepared to adapt their strategies as the situation changes.

7. Focus on continuous improvement: Conduct thorough debriefings and analyses after each crisis or exercise. Use these insights to continuously refine and improve your crisis communication strategies.

Are you “aligned”?

By aligning crisis communication plans with ISO 22361:2022, we can ensure that they follow international best practises, but also fit into the overall crisis management of their organisation.

This alignment increases the effectiveness of the crisis response, protects the organisation's reputation and contributes to long-term resilience in an increasingly unpredictable world.

So tell me, how did you integrate/fit your crisis communication plan with the ISO standard?

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References and further reading.

1  for, O. (2022). ISO 22361:2022. ISO.

Let’s meet..!

Here are the next upcoming events I’ll be attending. If you’re around, let me know and let’s meet.

  • 🇬🇧 Crisis Communications Boot Camp, 4-5 November, London, United Kingdom

  • 🇧🇭 Al for Crisis Communications: Navigating Turbulent Times, 6-7 October, Manama, Bahrain

  • 🇺🇸 Al and Crisis Communications: Navigating Turbulent Times, 10-11 October 2024, Chicago, USA

If you would like me to run a workshop for your organization or speak at your conference, don’t hesitate to get in touch by return email.

What I am reading/testing/checking out:

  • Perplexity (get $10 off with this link): Ask your questions and receive concise, accurate answers backed up by a curated set of sources. It has a conversational interface, contextual awareness, and learns about your interests and preferences over time.

  • Claude: How to create interactive dashboards based on your documents and data with AI.

  • Article: What you should explore beyond ChatGPT? Via Tobias Zwingmann

  • Tool: video 
localization at scale with AI.

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Parts of this newsletter were created using AI technology to draft content. In addition, all AI-generated images include a caption stating, 'This image was created using AI'. These changes were made in line with the transparency requirements of the EU AI law for AI-generated content.


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