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The Relationship Between Crisis Management and Public Relations

Posted on Thu, Feb 27, 2014

How well are companies positioned when it comes to crisis management? Does your company have a plan in case a crisis erupts?  Public relations planning should be developed as part of an overall crisis management plan in order to sustain a positive and productive relationship with stakeholders and the community at large. Public perception can dictate the profitability, the success, and/or the failure of a company.

The 24-hour cycle of breaking news and the popularity of social media increases the awareness of mass disasters and targeted crises, perpetuates rumors, and accelerates and a potential “blame game”. Incidents, whether natural or man-made, become media events. In order to control internal and external perceptions, a company must prepare crisis management communication tools, processes, and procedures.

An exercised crisis management plan, as well as company policy, should dictate what information to release, by whom, and when. Information MUST be accurate and communicated in a timely manner. The execution of crisis communications should begin in planning phase, not on the verge of, during, or after an incident. Unfortunately, during the height of a crisis, bleak realities and raw emotion may alter communication agreements and promote misinformation.

Engaging with media outlets is often an element of a response and must be incorporated into the planning process. Through crisis management planning, specific training, and all-inclusive exercises, companies can avoid public power struggles and confusion before a situation occurs. While some companies dread the journalistic nature created by an incident, the media has the ability to rapidly communicate public safety messages that can potentially reach necessary resources. With affirming proactive public relation measures in place, communications can alleviate public anxiety and provide a level of corporate credibility and response competency.

The more detailed the information, the less chance the media will have room for interpretation. In order to regulate inaccurate perceptions, initial media communications should contain the following elements:

  • A brief, focused, and factual description of the situation and initial response actions
  • Processes established to minimize and counteract the emergency
  • A statement of commitment to return to “business as usual”
  • An expression of empathy
  • Access to subject matter experts to answer media inquiries
  • Timing for media follow up (only promise what can be delivered)

Typically, reporters covering a crisis situation want the company to provide more information than is possible. Most often, information is withheld because:

  • Facts are still being gathered and confirmed
  • The response is current, fluid, and changing
  • Primary notifications and response communications supersede public relations  (ex: notification of families, safety of staff)

However, by understanding journalists’ “expected” information, companies can create a public relations plan that results in appeasing, accurate, and seamless communications. In any crisis situation the media looks to answer the following questions:

  • How was the crisis created (what happened)?
  • Why did the emergency happen?
  • Who/what is to blame?
  • Was there forewarning?
  • Are people and the environment safe?
  • Are there additional risks and what are they?
  • Are all victims accounted for and being helped?
  • How does the situation affect the site?
  • Can it be fixed?
  • Who is in charge?
  • Has the situation been contained?
  • What can be expected, now and in the future?
  • What can be done to protect others?
  • What resources or actions are needed from the community?

Companies must be aware that media coverage of an incident can adversely impact employees, investors, customers, suppliers, and possibly the community. It may directly threaten a company's staff, reputation, infrastructure, and/or revenues. Public relations planning should be developed as part of an overall crisis management plan in order to sustain a positive and productive relationship with every level of stakeholder and the community at large.

For free information on how to design an effective crisis management program, click the image below:

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Tags: Conference, Crisis Management, Communication Plan, Media and Public Relations

Response Planning Discussion Points: The Path to Preparedness

Posted on Mon, Feb 03, 2014

Through timely internal audits, facility assessments, attentive training and exercise programs, and best practices, response plans can be a working reflection of facility compliance and corporate preparedness. Necessary response documentation and plans established prior to an emergency allow for a comprehensive review of processes and procedures, and can result in an improved response to actual emergencies. The following questions, while not all-inclusive, can be used as planning discussion points to identify necessary response elements in order to develop or assess emergency response plans:

Compliance

  • What agencies and specific regulations apply to my location(s)?
  • If applicable, have material safety data sheets (MSDS) been updated and have their properties been included in the planning process?
  • Has an inspection taken place, and if so, have non-compliant issues been mitigated?
  • Will an internal compliance audit(s) be conducted?
  • Is personnel training up-to-date and compliant with site-specific requirements?

Risk Assessment

  • What are the current high-risk activities at the location?
  • Can high-risk tasks or conditions be mitigated? (The higher the probability and severity of risk, the higher the emphasis should be on corrective actions)
  • Have environmentally sensitive areas been identified and potential consequences been assessed?
  • Did risk assessment utilize realistic scenarios to define spill and release volumes and locations?
  • Are employees made aware of hazards associated with specific workplace process, materials, or location(s)?

Supply Chain

  • Are processes in place to monitor internal and external supply chains?
  • Is external spill response support necessary and available?
  • Have response equipment needs been evaluated and defined?
  • How would a potential spill affect both internal and external resources?
  • Have back up suppliers been identified and communicated with?

Training

  • Are personnel appropriately trained for their allocated roles?
  • Have the plans been thoroughly exercised with realistic scenarios that test training comprehension?
  • Is the response management team structure clear and able to be communicated?
  • Are external responders included in plan preparations, exercises, and distribution of the plans prior to an emergency?
  • Are exercises utilized to identify effective efforts and inefficiencies in response to ever-changing and site-specific scenarios?
  • Does training include documenting and communicating response actions, management decision, and tracking of resources?

Response Elements

  • Are clear procedures in place to notify, assess, and initiate a response?
  • Are individual responders and their contact information verified for accuracy?
  • Can approved stakeholders easily access response plans?
  • Have response times and limitations been set?
  • Do response elements address necessary updates, such as site construction, personnel changes, and supply chain changes?
  • Have internal and external communication methods been identified?
  • Are communications backup systems available and described in the plan?
  • Are staff roles and responsibilities specified and communicated?
  • Have alternate strategies and response procedures been identified?
  • Are processes and procedures identified in the plans to assess and monitor size, shape, type, location, and movement of a spill or release?
  • If applicable, have tactical response details been included in the planning process for incidents that expand beyond the confines of the facility?
  • Do trajectory maps mimic local observations and historical tendencies?
  • Do trajectory estimates include potential weather scenarios?
  • Are sensitive sites prioritized for protection?
  • Do plans include specific criteria for provisional tiered responses?
  • Are waste management and demobilization processes communicated?

Documentation

  • Have processes been established for updating planning information prior to an emergency and during a response?
  • Have plot plans and area mapping been integrated with GIS data and knowledge?
  • Are appropriate agreement documentation, such as contracts and memorandums of understanding (MOUs), in place?
  • Has exercise feedback/lessons learned been incorporated into plan revisions?
  • Are training and exercise records, and applicable regulatory required documentation up-to-date and accessible?
  • Are necessary Incident Command (ICS) forms and company paperwork readily available for response documentation?
For a free download of a Response Procedures Flow Chart, click the image below:
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Tags: Response Plans, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Emergency Response Planning, Safety, Disaster Response, Business Disruption

The Art of Crisis Management - Planning, Preparedness, and Practice

Posted on Thu, Jan 09, 2014

Organizational crises are inherently psychological, social, political, technological, and/or structural phenomena.1 Companies face enormous consequences if a crisis situation or incident negatively impacts brand reputation. During a crisis, communication is often one of the most persistent liabilities, potentially exposing weaknesses in company policy, operations, intentions, and/or financial foundations.  It relays a situation’s defining moments, actions, perceptions, and forecasted intentions. However, communication also holds the key to situational reconciliation and financial resolve, or reputational anguish. 

The act of planning, preparation, and practice of a Crisis Management Plan (CMP) grants companies the ability to effectively respond to defining situational crises.  The ability to diversely communicate information within a context understandable to responders, stakeholder, employees, and the public allows companies to successfully navigate through a crisis, potentially minimizing the effects of the situation.

Planning

Companies must have mechanisms in place to counteract potential risks, operational threats and company extinction. There are a multitude of crisis communication and response details, variables, and eventualities that must be planned for and considered. Whether your company is a small regional facility or an extensive international network of operations, designing a comprehensive and effective CMP before a crisis occurs is essential to the continued success of your enterprise.

The CMP should establish a strategic framework with checklists and response criteria that will guide the communications decision-making process to allow for an effective response to a crisis. These checklists should include activation criteria and responses for any situation involving a threat to people, property, the environment, or operations. A mishandled crisis or incident may result in damage to the company's reputation and/or financial well being.

A CMP should:

  • Identify all potential threats to “business as usual” operations. This can range from incidents requiring an emergency response to human resource controversies.
  • Determine what your position or viewpoint will be on potential issues.
  • Take preventive measures to proactively deter negative perceptions. This includes generating effective response procedures and recovery processes for a variety of potential threats.

Consider preparing a plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying and communicating with all stakeholders that may be affected by each crisis situation. Maintaining consistency through standardized positions and responsibilities enable clear, effective, and efficient crisis management.

Preparedness

With instant accessibility, information (whether true or false) can become viral within minutes. Because of this potential, companies must be prepared with the proper communication tools, a means for situational awareness, and potential responses to react quickly, yet effectively.  Miscommunication or withholding information can exacerbate the initial crisis and increase negative impacts of the situation. If accurate information cannot be verified, companies should not speculate in their communications. Statements should include anticipated time of communications and method of verification.

It is apparent that with the popularity and accessibility of social media, the role of conventional media is changing. However, John Barr, author of Trainwrecks: How Corporate Reputations Collapse and Managements Try to Rebuild Them said, “At the end of the day, a story told by traditional media – especially the respected media like The Globe and Mail, New York Times and Wall Street Journal – carries more weight than social media”.  The argument of the weight of “traditional media” seems to be evolving. The fast paced world of 24/7 news often leaves the traditional news outlets looking to social networks for information, even referring to posted tweets or Facebook comments.

But despite the media forum, companies’ preparedness efforts should include communications to a variety of recipients. Crisis management often highlights the communication with and amongst the public and potential consumers. However, pertinent information should be shared with multiple stakeholders, including employees, investors, contractors, and suppliers. Companies should shape messages according to each recipient, as specialized information may be required.

It is imperative for the establishment and training of a crisis management team. The team should be prepared to follow the established plan and pertinent guidelines, communicate company positions, and relay ongoing activities related to the incident. Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation.

Practice

A well-rehearsed and regularly updated CMP offers the best chance for company viability in the aftermath of a crisis. Since public perception plays an enormous role in the consequences resulting from a crisis, establishing a well trained team with knowledge of predetermined processes and assigned responsibilities will allow a company the means to respond to the situation, and control assumptions and rumors. 

Social media, both incoming and outgoing, can be targeted during a crisis. While these powerful channels can be a source of falsehoods and negative comments, this communication method, if used effectively, can be positive on a global scale. The crisis management team should be trained in social media, with an understanding of how to reach targeted audiences and acceptable content of statements.

A variety of crisis management exercises should conducted as part of response training. If the CMP is activated in an exercise or in an actual event, the results should be reviewed to determine if adjustments are necessary.  CMPs need to be continually reviewed, tested, and revised so that they are applicable to current risks and threats. However, no matter how well designed a CMP might be, personnel must be trained to effectively enact appropriate responses.

1. Academy of Management Review: Reframing Crisis Management, Christine M. Pearson and Judith A. Clair, 23(1) (1998): 59–76.

For a free download on conducting effective exercises, click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

Tags: Crisis Mapping, Resiliency, Response Plans, Crisis Management, Emergency Management Program, Communication Plan, Social Media

Corporate Preparedness, Adaption, and Mitigation

Posted on Thu, Nov 14, 2013

According to a report released by the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), national weather and climate-related disaster damages totaled nearly $110 billion in 2012, the second-costliest year for natural disasters since 1980.  At least $1 billion in damages resulted from each of the eleven 2012 natural disasters, including spring tornado outbreaks, a derecho (a long-lived wind storm), a year-long drought, associated heat waves, and wildfires.

“What we are seeing this year (2012), is not just an anomalous year, but a harbinger of things to come", said Jane Lubchenco, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator. Globally, the cost of disasters is also rising. The World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has revealed that disaster’s costs are 15 times higher than they were in the1950s.

According to statistics, the volatility and cost implications of disasters continue to rise. Natural disaster experts suggest a two-prong approach to combat natural disaster-related circumstances: adaptation and mitigation. In the corporate world, the two concepts must be intertwined. Adaptation refers to the necessary modifications that account for a changing environment. Adaptation is necessary for the survival of a species, as well as a business.

Increasing disaster costs require changes in overall preparedness perceptions and tangible actions. Corporate leadership teams must set the tone for preparedness by financially supporting, authorizing, and directing senior management to institute dedicated and sustaining emergency preparedness measures. Through these efforts, businesses can proactively respond to identified threats, potential risks, and potential disaster expenditures.

Initialization of corporate preparedness and prioritizing response planning is the foundation of private sector disaster adaptation. However, pre-emptive mitigation efforts are crucial to preventing incidents and minimizing costly impacts. Hazard mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the potential occurrence and overall impact of an incident. The mitigation process ideally requires the implementation of preventative measure before the next disaster, crisis situation, or even regulatory inspection. There are costs associated with analyzing threats, reducing risks, and implementing mitigation measures. However, an investment in the long-term well being of a facility and/or company through planned mitigation actions can increase overall site safety, operational sustainability, and financial security.

Effective mitigation requires a thorough understanding of the potential risks, regulatory compliance, lessons learned, and operational goals. For optimal financial benefit, mitigation efforts should meet certain key operational and response objectives. Mitigation efforts should lessen the strategic cost of an incident, and reduce the tactical effort of regulatory compliance. Mitigation efforts may:

  • Reduce incidents
  • Improve the ability to respond to safety incidents
  • Improve the casualty and harm conditions through faster rescues and accident avoidance
  • Strengthen infrastructure against failure
  • Improve corporate reputation through intent and safety investment
  • Reduce downtime
  • Improve asset utilization
  • Solidify supply chain availability

Mitigation measures can also be incorporated into corporate and site-specific response planning. Ensuring that response plans incorporate current communication methods, technologies, and lessons learned can improve over functionality of the response plan. Mitigation measures may include, but are not limited to:

  • Automating response planning through tracking, updating, and management
  • Facilitating universal ability to update response plans across all locations through cloud technology
  • Automating core compliance and response planning activities
  • Reducing resources associated with compliance and safety
  • Enabling EHS personnel to spend more time planning and less time  complying and reporting
  • Automating governance and controls
  • Optimizing and coordinating drills and actual emergency responses

To encourage continual adaptation and mitigation, preparedness programs should be reviewed at least annually. Response plans may require adjustments to incorporate operational changes, employee turnover, and/or new company policies, as well as changes in threat levels and associated risks. Through corporate preparedness adaptation and proactive mitigation efforts, safety and planning shortcomings, response coordination opportunities, resource capabilities, and effective response processes can be identified, improving overall site safety, financial security, and operational self- reliance.

 

For a free download on Crisis Management Best Pratices, click the image below:

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Tags: Emergency Management, Resiliency, Crisis Management, Regulatory Compliance, Emergency Management Program, Emergency Response Planning

The EOP: Adapting a Comprehensive Corporate Response Plan

Posted on Mon, Oct 28, 2013

Comprehensive response planning is quintessential for budget-minded, dynamic business environments. Corporate expansion and site consolidations, along with varying hazards, response procedures, and personnel are a continually fluctuating element of business. Ensuring compliance and promoting streamlined, company protocols through a comprehensive emergency operations plan (EOP) provides facilities with a solid preparedness foundation. Comprehensive EOPs should be consistent with t the National Response Framework, a collaborative system “built upon scalable, flexible, and adaptable coordinating structures to align key roles and responsibilities.”

However, site-specific details and response activities must be integrated into an EOP. To enhance site level preparedness, site managers should invoke cooperative efforts with local emergency management, planning, and response groups. When companies apply manageable frameworks, technologies, processes, and procedures, individual sites can develop, modify, and implement a multi-hazard emergency management program to effectively respond to an on-site incident, while remaining aligned with corporate HSE policies.

The purpose of an EOP is to ensure an efficient, coordinated, effective response to minimize an incident’s impact on people, infrastructure, and the environment. An EOP encapsulates hazard identification, preparedness, response, and recovery. The following are core operational considerations of emergency management that need to be included in an EOP:

1. Leadership: Site leadership, or a qualified individual, should be in charge in an emergency. The response protocols should include a system for leadership to manage resources, analyze information, and make decisions in an emergency situation. Industrial facilities with specialized hazards may possess their own fire team, emergency medical technicians, and/or hazardous materials team. Smaller companies or facilities may need to rely on mutual aid agreements for response assistance. Leadership may need to consolidate response positions and combine responsibilities. Tenants of office buildings or industrial parks may be part of an emergency management program for the entire facility.

2. Communications: Communications are essential to any emergency response operation. The ability to diversely communicate information within a context understandable to responders and the affected community allows managers to successfully navigate through a disaster, potentially minimizing the effects of the hazardous situation. Site leadership should ensure employees are aware of communications methods and equipment, applicable alarms, muster requirements, implications of various situations, and response expectations. Through communication, employees can comprehend the safety measures necessary to limit exposures and prevent unnecessary harm.

3. Employee Safety: Every effort should be made to include processes and procedures for the most likely and applicable emergency scenarios relevant to your operations. Additionally, training employees on the basic site-specific response actions is fundamental in protecting the health and safety of individuals at the facility. At a minimum, the following safety aspects should be evaluated and included in a comprehensive response plan:

  • Evacuation planning
  • Evacuation routes and exits
  • Assembly areas and accountability
  • Shelter
  • Training and information

4. Property Protection: The ability to identify and quantify critical infrastructure functions that, when not functional, may hinder the ability to operate, is a critical stage in emergency operation planning. Minimizing infrastructural effects, limiting environmental impacts, and maximizing safety is essential to restoring operations and can allow for a more viable company in the aftermath of an incident.  

  • Planning considerations
  • Protection systems
  • Mitigation opportunities
  • Facility shutdown
  • Records preservation
  • Protecting vital records

5. Community Involvement: Site leadership should maintain a dialogue with community leaders, first responders, government agencies, community organizations and utilities, and the media in order to consolidate response efforts. Your relationship with the community may influence the ability to protect personnel and property. By actively participating in these partnerships, companies can improve their capabilities in emergency management by sharing best practices and joint training. Partnering opportunities may include:

  • Mutual Aid Agreements
  • Public Information
  • Media Relations

6. Recovery and Restoration: Business recovery and restoration directly affects a company's bottom line. The quicker the incident is resolved, the faster operations can resume. Leadership should identify critical operations and prioritize plans for bringing those systems back on-line. Consider making contractual arrangements with vendors for such post-emergency services as:

  • Records preservation
  • Equipment repair
  • Earthmoving
  • Engineering reviews

7. Administration and Logistics: Maintain complete and accurate records at all times to ensure a more efficient emergency response and recovery. Certain records may also be required by regulatory agencies, insurance carriers, or may prove invaluable in the case of legal action after an incident.

For tips on conducting effective emergency response exercises, click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Crisis Management, Emergency Management Program, Workplace Safety

Business Continuity and Emergency Response Planning Acronyms

Posted on Mon, Oct 21, 2013

Acronyms are a shorthand communication method used within the emergency management industry. This list of common acronyms is often used in response plans and/or business continuity plans. Those utilizing these plans should be familiar with the language.

ACP

Area Contingency Plan

API

American Petroleum Institute

BBL

Barrel

BCP

Business Continuity Plan

BLEVE

Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion

BIA

Business Impact Analysis

BOP

Blowout Preventer

BPD

Barrels per Day

BSSE

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

BST

Business Support Team

CAER

Community Awareness and Emergency Response

CFR

Code of Federal Regulations

CM

Crisis Manager

CMT

Crisis Management Team

COTP

Captain of the Port

CP

Command Post

CWA

Clean Water Act

DOM

Dock Operations Manual

DOT

Department of Transportation

DR

Disaster Recovery

DWT

Deadweight Tons

E&P

Exploration and Production

EAP

Emergency Action Plan

EMT

Emergency Management Team

EOC

Emergency Operations Center

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

EPCRA

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

EPZ

Emergency Planning Zone

ERAP

Emergency Response Action Plan

ERP

Emergency Response Plan

ETA

Estimated Time of Arrival

FOG

Field Operations Guide

FOSC

Federal On-Scene Coordinator

FPP

Fire Pre-Plan

FRP

Facility Response Plan

FSC

Finance Section Chief

GOM

Gulf of Mexico

GPM

Gallons Per Minute

HAZMAT

Hazardous Materials

HAZWOPER

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response

HMIS

Hazardous Material Information System

H2S

Hydrogen Sulfide

IBRRC

International Bird Rescue Research Center

IAP

Incident Action Plan

IC

Incident Commander

ICP

Incident Command Post, Integrated Contingency Plan

ICS

Incident Command System

IDLH

Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health

IMO

International Marine Organization

IMT

Incident Management Team

IPIECA

International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association

JIC

Joint Information  Center

LEL

Lower Explosive Level

LEL

Lower Explosive Limit

LEPC

Local Emergency Planning Committee

LEPD

Local Emergency Planning District

LNG

Liquefied Natural Gas

LPG

Liquefied Petroleum Gas

LSC

Logistic Section Chief

MOU

Memorandum of Understanding

MSDS

Material Safety Data Sheet

NCP

National Contingency Plan

NGL

Natural Gas Liquid

NIMS

National Incident Management System

NIOSH

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

NM

Nautical Miles

NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NPDES

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

NRC

National Response Center

NRDA

National Resource Damage Assessment

NRS

National Response System

NRT

National Response Team

OPA 90

Oil Pollution Act of 1990

OSC

On-Scene Coordinator/Commander, Operations Section Chief

OSHA

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSRO

Oil Spill Removal Organization

OSRP

Oil Spill Response Plan

PE

Professional Engineer

PFD

Personal Flotation Device

PHMSA

Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration

PIAT

Public Information Assistance Team

PIO

Public Information Officer

POB

Persons on Board

PPE

Personal Protective Equipment

PREP

Preparedness for Response Exercise Program

PRP

Pandemic Response Plan

PSC

Planning Section Chief

PSI

Pounds per Square Inch

QI

Qualified Individual

RCT

Regional Crisis Team

ROC

Record of Changes

RPO

Recovery Point Objective

RTO

Recovery Time Objective

RP

Responsible Party

RRC

Regional Response Centers

RRT

Regional Response Team (Federal)

RRI

Regional Resource Inventory

SAR

Search and Rescue

SARA

Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act

SCAT

Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team

SCBA

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

SERC

State Emergency Response Commission

SITREP

Situation Report Message

SMT

Spill Management Team

SOLAS

Safety of Life at Sea

SONS

Spill of National Significance

SOPEP

Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan

SOSC

State On-Scene Coordinator

SOT

Standard Operating Procedure

SPCC

Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan

SSC

Scientific Support Coordinator

SSSP

Site Specific Safety & Health Plan

SWD

Saltwater Disposal

UCS

Unified Command System

USCG

United States Coast Guard

WCD

Worst Case Discharge

WHO

World Health Organization

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Emergency Management, Response Plans, Crisis Management, Oil Spill, Emergency Response Planning, Communication Plan, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Response, National Preparedness

Development of a Crisis Management Plan

Posted on Thu, Aug 29, 2013

Circumstances that create emergency situations can often be predicted and mitigated. However, an emergency situation can strike in an instant. When “accidents happen”, a crisis management plan can minimize incident escalation effects, such as a company’s short and long-term reputation, adverse financial performance, and overall impingement of company longevity. The associated level of preparedness may mean the difference between crises averted and complete corporate disaster.  

A crisis management plan and program should be part of all company’s overall strategic planning process. Developing a comprehensive crisis management plan for your unique enterprise can be complex. Planning for managing public perception associated with an incident may be as important as dealing with the emergency itself.

There are a multitude of communication and response details, variables, and eventualities that must be taken into consideration and planned for. Whether a company is a small regional operation or an extensive international network of offices and facilities, designing a comprehensive and effective crisis management plan before a crisis occurs is essential to the continued success of an enterprise.

The following concepts should be utilized to generate an effective crisis management plan:

  • Predict: Identify potential threats to business continuity, which can range from emergency incidents to product recalls.
  • Position: Agree to the company’s position on potential issues.
  • Prevent: Take preventive measures to avert emergency situations and proactively deter negative perceptions, which may include performing safety and operational audits and assessments, and additional personnel training.
  • Plan: Prepare a communications plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying and communicating with all audiences that may be affected by various crisis scenarios.
  • Persevere: In the event of a crisis, proactively communicate company position and initiate other response actions, as identified in the plan. Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation.
  • Evaluate: If the crisis management plan is activated, review ongoing results and feedback to determine if adjustments should be made.

The following questions may assist in identifying crisis management preparedness measures:

How vulnerable are you to natural disaster?

Depending on the geographic location(s) of your operation, you may be subject to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, ice storms, or a combination of these. Geological and meteorological patterns should be examined from past decades and, ideally, the past century.

Based on these patterns, emergency response plans must be developed for the most likely disaster scenarios. Once those plans are in place, an overall crisis management plan should be developed to communicate and respond to the associated impacts of the disaster, implemented response measures, and overall business practices related to the natural disaster.

What should be done for business continuity issues, such as a pandemic situation? 

The risk of a virulent outbreak is real and has the potential to seriously impact day-to-day business operations.  Business continuity and pandemic planning can prepare a company to react to a potential outbreak. In developing a plan for pandemic scenarios, the business continuity/pandemic response team must have access to the resources, procedures, and safeguards to successfully mitigate its effects and sustain critical business processes. In this scenario, a crisis management team must be in place to address potential corporate human relations and proactively address shareholder communication.

What inherent hazards are present in current operations?

It is essential to have comprehensive prevention plans, secondary containment, and response procedures in place if your facility handles hazardous materials. It is critical, and often required by regulations to have response plans in place in the event of a fire, explosion, oil spill, or release of other hazardous materials.

The ability to quickly return to normal business operations is essential for the viability of a company. When developing an emergency response plan, all potential variables, risks and threats should be identified and prepared for. The crisis management plan should identify and address potential environmental, socio-economic, and company impacts and how to proactively mitigate damages.

What are potential security vulnerabilities?

In addition to planning for potential natural disasters, business continuity issues, and operational hazards, recognizing and mitigating security vulnerabilities is an important step to a successful crisis management program. Whether in the form of a network intrusion or virus, or an actual physical attack, site and electronic security should be taken into consideration when assessing potential threats. Response teams must be prepared with knowledge, procedures, and the necessary resources to respond appropriately and minimize impacts and long-term effects.

The crisis management plan must address necessary steps required to proactively reassure workforce and shareholders of the company’s ongoing commitment to preserve and protect the security of its employees, intellectual property, and trade secrets, and relationships with business partners.

For a free Response Procedures Flow Chart, click the image below:

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Tags: Emergency Response, Emergency Management, Crisis Management, Communication Plan

Global EHS Response Planning, Preparedness, and Challenges

Posted on Thu, Aug 22, 2013

As companies expand operations and become more global, applicable location-specific threats and risks must be identified and incorporated into preparedness measures. Enterprise expansion requires environmental, health, and safety (EHS) managers and corporate regulatory teams to sharpen their global understanding of regulations, security needs, and associated components of emergency response plans and strategies specific to location of operations.

Whether a facility is domestically located or abroad, ensuring compliance and employee safety requires a streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plan. All response plans within the corporate enterprise should address site-specific facility details, appropriate response processes, standardized company-wide best practices, and should maintain compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.

A poorly managed and inadequate response, whether an emergency on non-emergency incident, can negatively affect a company’s reputation, business interests, and relationship with key regulators, partners, and local entities. However, global branches outside headquarters’ domain may present additional preparedness and response challenges. Cultural differences, infrastructure challenges, or security priorities may heighten preparedness priorities and planning efforts. As a result, a multinational company may be particularly vulnerable to crisis or emergency response situations.

High-level crisis management responses may stem from either emergency or non-emergency situations. While necessary emergency responses likely affect the safety and health of employees and/or the facility infrastructure, non-emergency situations can arise that potentially impact company reputation and operational longevity. Response plans should be developed for each potential emergency or non-emergency scenario that could cause significant damage to local operations or company-wide. Crisis management or emergency response planning may incorporate, but is not limited to the following:

Environmental Stewardship: Disparity in international, country, state, county and corporate environmental standards.  Environmental regulations may vary regarding:

  • Facility or site requirements
  • Transportation
  • Hazardous spills
  • Equipment safety
  • Fire-fighting method
  • Gas releases

Natural Disasters: Each geographic location is saddled with specific potential natural threats.

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes/Typhoons,
  • Sand/wind storms
  • Tornados
  • Flooding
  • Tsunami

Employee issues: While every facility must prepare for potential employee issues, global companies must pay specific attention to the following:

  • Cultural differences
  • Language barriers
  • Labor relations challenges
  • Workplace discrimination or harassment
  • Disgruntled workers
  • Health and safety disparagements
Marketing: Global markets and unethical business practices can create non-emergency scenarios resulting in the need for crisis management:
  • Price gouging
  • Supply availability
  • Recalls
  • Deceptive business practices

Security Breach: A security breach can affect multiple aspects of a company, from business continuity to the physical safety of employees.

  • Computer hacking
  • Catastrophic IT failure
  • Facility security measures
  • Civil unrest
  • Personnel/employee security

Corporate Governance: Corporate changes can initiate unrest, disrupt operations, and company reputation:

  • Mergers
  • Organizational restructuring
  • Downsizing
  • Facility closings
  • Management successions/promotions
  • Financial reporting integrity

Industry/Sector Issues: As industry specific equipment, regulatory advancements, and technologies evolve, preparedness should continually adapt to include safety processes, continuity procedures and best practices.

  • Supply disruptions
  • Punitive regulations
  • Equipment advancements

Illegal Activity: Faults in humanity may be intensified by location specific conditions, supply and demand, and/or greed. Preparedness measures should include business continuity and crisis management procedure for the following circumstances:

  • Extortion
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Malfeasance
  • Criminal Investigation

Political/Social issues: As companies strive to be profitable, political and social issues can interfere with daily operations. Situations that may affect productivity include, but are not limited to:

  • Human rights
  • Terrorism
  • War
  • Political or social unrest
  • Economic disparity
  • Discrimination

Though preparedness, companies can minimize the effects of costly crisis and emergency situations. Timely resolutions with limited impact to the facility, employees, the environment, reputation and the financial bottom line will allow companies to better position themselves for prosperity and longevity. Additionally, strategic preparedness and a response focus across global entities can propel international EHS best practices and bolster worldwide economic stability.

To assist in Global EHS crisis management planning, click here for our free download.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Social Unrest, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Security plans, Political Instability, Media and Public Relations, Workplace Safety

The Critical Response Time of Crisis Management Planning

Posted on Mon, Jul 01, 2013

In crisis management, response time is critical. It takes years to build a solid corporate reputation, but only hours to dismantle it. Despite mitigation efforts, companies can encounter environmental, man-made, or technology-related threats at any given time. The faster an effective response can be initiated, the less chance of an incident escalating, adversely impacting the facility, employees, the environment, and overall company reputation.

Corporate crises come in a variety of forms, ranging from a minor social media glitch to mass casualty situations. Crisis resolution requires informative communication and actionable procedures. In order to act quickly, companies need to prepare a crisis management plan with flexible, yet pre-identified responses and actions. Proactive crisis communications and responses will vary depending on the nature of the situation, the location, and the time of occurrence.

Regardless of the circumstances, every crisis has the potential to negatively impact the company’s short and long-term reputation, daily operations, and financial performance. A properly implemented crisis management plan can result in:

  • Crisis resolution
  • Continuation of business as usual
  • A preserved, or possibly, an enhanced corporate reputation
  • Financial sustainability

Therefore, it is critical that a basic crisis management framework, response measures, and communication strategies be in place and exercised before a crisis actually occurs. Most successful responses result from a prepared strategy, with a cooperative understanding of response roles and responsibilities. Since each crisis is unique and comes with varying degrees of impact, each crisis must be evaluated and resolved individually based on:

  • The potential impact to employees and the company.
  • Stakeholders interested in the outcome of the incident.
  • The level of control the company has over the situation.
  • Complexity of the crisis and specialists required.

The following crisis management levels can serve as a guide to determine the degree of impact and subsequent required response(s).

Level 1:

  1. Minimal threat to life, property, or the environment:
  2. No medical treatment beyond basic first aid
  3. No risk to the public
  4. Site-level incident limited to the immediate work area.
  5. Minimal estimated property damage to company facilities or equipment
  6. No actual or potential media/ public attention or interest
  7. Regulatory notification is not required
  8. Minimal impact to daily company operations

Level 2:

  1. Limited damage to company property, but has a slight potential for offsite migration
  2. Employee, contractor, or third party injury or illness requiring professional medical treatment
  3. Limited gas release or minor chemical/hazardous spill requiring regulatory reporting
  4. Moderate estimated property loss or financial damage due to fines, penalties or remediation
  5. Notification or employee interaction with appropriate state and/or federal agencies
  6. A security threat that presents a potential risk to the company or the public
  7. An environmental, health or safety issue that could result in a significant adverse impact to the company’s reputation
  8. An event that may impact company operations

Level 3:

  1. A major event that presents extreme danger to life, property, and/or the environment
  2. Any fatality, injury, or illness to a member of the public
  3. Any fatality, injury, or illness to a company employee or contractor
  4. The event cannot be mitigated without the support of local government resources
  5. A fire, pipeline rupture, or explosion involving company facilities
  6. A chemical/hazardous spill that has the potential to migrate off-site
  7. An event that causes significant disruption or a shutdown of operations
  8. Significantly disrupts scheduled customer deliveries
  9. Significant property or financial loss


While the specific circumstances will define a crisis response strategy, basic communications processes typically remain consistent. If the crisis warrants, the pre-identified crisis management team would be responsible for developing media strategy, public statements, and key messages, as well as identifying and briefing one or more spokespersons to deliver the pre-approved messages to media outlets. A specific individual or individuals should be assigned to media/public relations to ensure messaging consistency and information availability.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Crisis Mapping, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Emergency Management Program

Energy Infrastructure Earns D+ : Preparedness Planning is Essential

Posted on Mon, Jun 24, 2013

Businesses rely on infrastructure for operational productivity and economic stability. Every 4 years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) releases a “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure” that depicts the condition and performance of the United State’s infrastructure. Each type of infrastructure is assigned a letter grade, similar to a school report card. According to the 2013 report, the Energy sector infrastructure received a D+.

The aging electrical grid, some of which originated in the 1880s, and pipeline distribution systems are becoming more susceptible to failure. The report stated, “Ongoing permitting issues, weather events, and limited maintenance have contributed to an increasing number of failures and power interruptions”. Over the next five years, nearly 17,000 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines, as well as additional oil and gas pipelines are scheduled for construction. Despite plans, new construction is slow and expensive, leaving established infrastructure vulnerable until mitigation efforts are complete.

For companies, this potential for infrastructure failure highlights the importance of securing supply chains and assessing response plans. When extended power failures occur, companies operations can endure significant challenges and potential financial losses. “If the electricity goes out, businesses will shut down for the day,” said Gregory E DiLoreto, P.E.,President of ASCE.  “They will send their workers home. Goods and products don’t get made (and) profits are lost.”

Identifying critical utility and technology related operations is the first step in mitigating the potential threat of an extended power outage. Possible critical utility and technology involved in business operations include, but are not limited to:

  • Utilities including electric power, gas, water, hydraulics, compressed air, municipal and internal sewer systems, wastewater treatment services
  • Security and alarm systems, elevators, lighting, life support systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, electrical distribution system.
  • Manufacturing equipment, pollution control equipment
  • Communication systems, both data and voice computer networks
  • Transportation systems including air, highway, railroad and waterway

Once utility and technology related operations are identified, the following planning considerations should be taken into account in order to safeguard critical systems and develop an effective business continuity plan:

  • Determine the impact of service disruptions and mitigate if possible (generators, fuel, relocating inventory, back up suppliers etc.)
  • Ensure that key safety and maintenance personnel are thoroughly familiar with all building systems, such as alarms, utility shutoffs, elevators.
  • Establish company-wide computer security, download, and backup practices in order to secure technologies and communications networks.
  • Establish procedures for restoring systems.
  • Establish preventive maintenance schedules for all systems and equipment.

But energy infrastructure is not limited to power sources. Both the input and output supply chain associated with energy transmission must be secured. Despite corporate and regulatory inspection efforts and equipment evaluations and retrofits, oil and gas pipeline companies must be prepared for potential structural failures that inhibit overall energy operations and potentially affect the environment. Utilizing facility response plans and tactical response plans can address emergency response obstacles associated with pipeline failure.

Facility response plans are required by regulatory agencies for facilities that could potentially cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on navigable waters. These plans present processes and procedures for mitigating additional harm to personnel, the facility, and the environment in the event of an incident. Tactical plans are beneficial in responding to pipeline incidents that can occur across various impact zones. It is typically not practical for Pipelines to utilize secondary containment, which eliminates a factor of safety often utilized for tanks and other equipment. Tactical plans deliver location-applicable response information across multiple pipeline zones. This short-term, site-specific information informs responders how to best access, assess, and respond to offsite spills.  At a minimum tactical response plans should:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to spill incidents at sensitive locations  
  • Ensure an effective and efficient response despite geographical challenges
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response at the location
  • Outline response procedures and techniques for responding to a spill at a specific location
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts through a more complete response plan

While companies continue to mitigate and rectify aging infrastructure issues that can cause disruptions and potential destruction, response planning and preparedness must be prioritized in order to sustain operations, potential profitability, and overall economic growth.

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Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, OPA 90, Oil Spill, Emergency Management Program