Crisis planning: 'As an industry we are falling behind'

Dale Parmenter, group CEO at DRPG, says event planners must take more responsibility for learning how to protect their delegates.

It’s our duty as event planners to protect delegates, and organisers should be planning for attacks as a possibility at their events.

There is no getting away from it as the media reminds us of the risk and keeps it at the forefront of people’s minds. The fear remains prevalent.

As an industry, we are falling behind in this area and we need to take responsibility ourselves.

Although your event is much more likely to suffer a crisis based around the transport, weather, equipment or human error than any attack scenario, at DRPG we are discussing crisis plans in relation to the terror threat because this appears to be people’s primary concern at the moment.

It would be better if we could collaborate more with suppliers and industry peers, and create clearer lines to show who is responsible for what elements.

Industry-wide, we produce a huge range of events with a variety of budgets. It may not always be financially viable or sensible to create a large-scale crisis management plan. But here are five steps I think will help planners create robust and thorough crisis planning documents:

  1. Define a crisis
    Ensure your teams understand what constitutes a genuine crisis.

  2. Know your command structure
    Define and make known who your key crisis strategists are.

  3. Know your contact structure
    Understand how you activate your crisis plan and reach your crisis team 24 hours a day.

  4. Liaise with your key suppliers
    You and your suppliers should ensure that your crisis procedures work alongside each other.

  5. Have social media guidelines
    Know your social media policy before a crisis occurs. A handful of poorly worded tweets could escalate a minor crisis to a full-scale PR disaster.

Crisis documents should be dynamic. They must consider everything from the cloakroom through to your client contacts, your on-site team and your contacts in the wider business.

Your crisis planning should be transferable to any situation, even the most unlikely. Don’t be unprepared.

This article was written by Dale Parmenter, group CEO at DRPG. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of C&IT Magazine.

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