What is a crisis simulation exercise?

A crisis simulation exercise is training designed to help communications or executive teams practice how they would handle a real-life crisis situation in a safe, secure environment. Practising your emergency communications response ensures team members are ready for a real crisis and are better prepared to communicate with concerned stakeholders over email, social media and over the phone. 

Who are crisis simulation exercises for?

Any organisation can face a crisis at any point, no matter how hard we work to avoid them. We help companies prepare their communications response for any eventuality, from marketing fails and cyber breaches to terror attacks and supply chain issues. A crisis exercise is recommended for all businesses. Because of that, we can adapt our simulation to cover any emergency topic so it’s completely tailored to you and the potential crises you may face. 

Is a crisis simulation difficult?

A crisis exercise on our Social Simulator platform is certainly no walk in the park. It’s designed to really test your team. Having said that, we monitor the exercise as it is running and can adapt the difficulty level at any point. If your team is finding things easy, we put on some extra pressure. If they are struggling to keep up, we take our foot off the gas a little. If it sounds like too much, why not look at our Crisis90 desktop platform instead?

How long does a crisis exercise take?

A crisis simulation can take anywhere from 2 hours to a whole day or even longer, depending on the scale of the scenario, the number of participants and the concerns you want to cover. We can also support your team with crisis theory training to start the session and a debrief and report afterwards.

Who designs the crisis?

Having run hundreds of simulations around the world, we know how to build a crisis simulation that will test the key communications areas you would like to target. We work with you to design a relevant and accurate crisis scenario across the channels you use and the media, stakeholders and influencers you’re most likely to hear from. 

How realistic is it?

Very realistic! 

We do our research and work hard to make the exercise as realistic as possible. We work with you to ensure we get those details specific to your organisation right. We are knowledgeable in multiple sectors and always keen to explore more.

We’re a small team, is a crisis simulation still useful?

Even a small team of 4 or 5 can get a lot out of a simulation, whether you’re a well-oiled machine or a newly-formed team. If your crisis team is small, get other staff members involved to develop their skills too!

We’re not sure we’re ready for a full-on crisis exercise; what can we do instead?

If you’re still developing your crisis plan and might not be ready for a full-scale exercise, look at our Crisis90 desktop platform instead.

Crisis90 is a less intense, guided session to work through a crisis as a team. It can be completed in as little as 90 minutes as part of an away day or training session and can be delivered alongside crisis theory learning from our team of crisis experts.

What actually happens during a crisis simulation?

There’s no one-size-fits-all exercise. What happens will depend on the scenario, number of participants, the channels you’re using and what it is you’re testing. A rough agenda includes:

  • run-through of the platform with all participants
  • a crisis unfolding over 2 or 3 phases (with some possible time jumps)
  • debrief

During the phases, participants will receive a variety of communications via email, social and conventional media. There might also be calls, a press conference or live media interviews. 

With the information they are receiving, they will need to discuss as a team, develop a plan and then put it into action.

How secure is it?

Our products are security-tested regularly as part of our Cyber Essentials Plus certification. 

Our hardened infrastructure is managed directly by our team and located in trusted ISO27001-certified data centres in the UK and France, with 24/7 automated monitoring.

While our technology is highly reliable, for our live crisis workshops and simulations, we have live failover servers on standby at all times.

Participants access our products over an encrypted connection (https/TLS) using a regular laptop, tablet or mobile device and a modern web browser – no special plugins are required.

We decommission client platforms shortly after each workshop or exercise so they are no longer accessible over the internet and the data is either deleted completely or encrypted and stored securely according to client preferences.

Find out more about how secure our products are : https://helpfuldigital.com/security/

What happens after a crisis exercise has ended?

Straight after an exercise has ended, we can run a debrief with your team to identify skills gaps, and other feedback to enhance your crisis strategy and plans. With this information, we can develop training content, specific to your needs, write a report or help you to develop your crisis strategy further. 

We also recommend you run the exercise more than once. An annual test of your crisis capabilities can help you to see improvements you’ve made, refresh your skills to stay well prepared for whatever might come your way and help new members of the team to know what to do. 

How can a crisis exercise help identify weaknesses in teams?

It’s not our aim to call out or embarrass individuals through a crisis exercise but the simulation often identifies weaknesses within the team which can be improved. This might be skills gaps, missing tools or communication issues. Throughout the exercise, our facilitators will be monitoring the crisis team, looking to see how they handle the different information they are receiving and can offer constructive feedback afterwards. 


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