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  • Writer's pictureL. Darryl Armstrong

Continuity, Emergency Operations and Crisis Planning – All Part of One Strategic Effort – It is Time

Colleges and universities along with businesses and organizations of all sizes are being forced to review their business continuity, emergency operations and crisis planning in light of recent tragic events.

To maximize such efforts, L. Darryl ARMSTRONG and Associates Behavioral Public Relations LLC proposes that the best approach to helping any organization review and renovate their plans is to first conduct a crisis audit leading to a step-by-step planning process.  This process leads to the development of a comprehensive business continuity plan with sub-plans dealing with emergency operations, crisis and media and social media management.

Our approach takes the organization through a comprehensive process.

Within the crisis audit, six major areas are assessed:

  1. Compliance

  2. Preparedness

  3. Training

  4. Information management

  5. Quality assurance

  6. Communications

Crisis Audit, Assessment, Review and Plan Development

This audit then leads to a series of steps that leads the organization through a thorough self-inspection with the input from an objective third-party observer to enhance and improve  existing plans and then to develop a comprehensive plan of action that provides pre, during and post operational plans .

This is accomplished by a phased process consisting of five distinct phases:

Phase One – Information gathering and reporting

  1. Collecting data and information from people in key positions;

  2. Conducting confidential interviews with management, staff and stakeholders;

  3. Finding and assessing operational and communication strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and;

  4. Reporting the results to the key decision makers on the management team, reaching consensus on the key areas in which planning is required or where planning needs renovation and securing recommendations for the candidates for a well-versed and representative planning team.

Phase Two – Team formation, training

  1. Appointing and announcing the planning team to address the findings and assist in the writing or rewriting of the plans of action;

  2. Conducting training sessions for the team members so they can participate effectively and efficiently.

Phase Three – Plan writing and consensus building

  1. Assessing known threats and anticipating actual crisis scenarios including relevant action plans, key messages and staffing needs;

  2. Drafting the plans for the key areas ;

  3. Presenting the draft plan to key decision makers in a facilitated workshop to secure feedback;

  4. Reviewing the feedback against existing and needed policies and procedures;

  5. Reporting these findings back to the key decision makers in a facilitated meeting to reach a consensus path forward and to reach agreement to alter any policy or administrative changes needed; and

  6. Finalizing the plan.

Phase Four –Plan exercising, recalibrating, finalizing

  1. Designing and conducting table-top exercises and quality reviews with key decision makers;

  2. Evaluating and recalibrating the plans as needed;

  3. Team debriefs and presentation of final plans to management;

  4. Team meets in workshop setting with key implementers and stakeholders to review plan and answer questions; and

  5. Any subsequently identified training or consultation needed in the areas of plan reconstruction, media relations, social media management, crisis and issues management planning, or presentation skills are scheduled.

Phase Five – Process evaluation

  1. Final plus Delta evaluation is conducted in a facilitated session with key decision makers and team;

  2. Key interviews to secure evaluative feedback; and

  3. Evaluation report presented to key decision-makers.

This 5 phase process is summarized here:

  1. Phase One – Information gathering and reporting

  2. Phase Two – Team formation, training

  3. Phase Three – Plan writing and consensus building

  4. Phase Four –Plan exercising, recalibrating, finalizing

  5. Phase Five – Process evaluationWe have found in our 40-years of experience that these individual steps lead to the development of collaborative and comprehensive plans of action that have the necessary input and “buy-in” from all levels of the organization to ensure success when implemented.Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong has more than 40-years experience dealing with crisis and their management. He  is a regular contributor to webinars at PaperClip, Inc. including webinars and training in such areas as:

  6. Crisis Audits and Assessments

  7. Dealing with the Active Shooters on Campus

  8. Tabletop Exercises for Campuses

  9. Dealing with Bomb Threats

  10. Communicating with the Media During a Crisis

  11. Campus Crisis and Social Media Use During a Crisis

Visit his website and check under “Resources” for valuable checklists and information at:

Introducing a New Webinar:

Campus Crisis & Social Media:

Preparation, Planning & Policies

Thursday, February 28th – 2 pm (ET)

Universities who have yet to establish a process to use social media during a crisis are at a significant disadvantage. No longer do campus personnel have the luxury of “deciding” on what their media statement will say in the minutes and hours after a campus incident.

Whether it is a sexual scandal, a campus shooting, a rape or robbery or a simple break in a water line, the campus and community will know about it within minutes via social media.

Join your colleagues from across the country for an interactive webinar where you will learn the importance of establishing social media processes, procedures and policies as a primary crisis management and communication information resource.

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