Preparation is the key to surviving a crisis

As a specialty chemicals business, Akzo Nobel Baltics AS has been actively building their crisis management capacity based on the crisis regulation guidelines of the group as well as documents that lay down rules of crisis management based on local service and personnel structure.

“After evaluating our risks and reviewing the guidelines for crisis management, we decided to improve the skills of our team members to make sure we are prepared for crises situations. We decided to practice the implementation of our guidelines and procedures as realistically as possible and organise a crisis training to do that,” said Elena Past, the head of the company.

The search for the expert to carry out the training was a long and difficult process. “We wanted to find a partner who had different practical experience in complex crisis situation and handling communication during crises. Other criteria included the company having experience of working with large international companies in order to learn from sectors similar to ours and also the partner being prepared to adapt the training to our needs and expectations,” she explained.

Taylor-made approach is more effective

The training was carried out by Helena Peterson, the Strategic Consultant of PR Strategies. According to her, the preparation was a truly exciting challenge because the company wanted an approach that was far from a traditional crisis communication training. Compiling a new training that focused on crisis regulation was a process that lasted many months and included several discussions, experimenting with different approaches and meetings with the client.

“Our principle is that we avoid doing little “ready-made” trainings – we try to generate a unique training content for each organisation based on their field of activity and characteristic features. The world and the business environment is constantly changing and our clients need to be prepared to react to new complex types of crises caused by tweets, interpersonal issues and cyber risks,” Peterson explained.

In order to develop a training that truly supports the organisation’s needs, we usually analyse their materials that allow us to identify the aspects that are the most business critical for this organisation. This way we can use everyday examples both in the theory lecture as well as the crisis simulation,” she added.

Interesting and useful

The training day included a theory lecture with several practical exercises that gave the participants a chance to figure out how to continue business processes during crises as well as how to communicate core messages to the public. According to Akzo Nobel’s representative, the participants’ feedback to the crisis training was excellent for many reasons.

"It was completely in line with our expectations, it was meticulously planned and based our realistic situations that could affect our business. Since it was extremely difficult to get the whole crisis team put their everyday activities on hold for the training, it was important for the participants that eeach and every valuable minute would be spent usefully,” Elena Past said.

She added that the practical exercises revealed several weaknesses, many of which could be predicted but some were also surprising. According to her, the training gave a necessary boost to mapping risks even better to identify areas which make the organisation vulnerable.

“The training team sent us a detailed follow-up analysis of the training which was helped us launch the improvement of our crisis regulation capacities,” she added.