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Event Management

Everything You Should Know About Event Crisis Management

Yashika Tangri
December 6, 2023
14
min read

Imagine the dawn of a perfect day. The weather is flawless, and the sky is clear. People are talking about your event. They have started arriving at the venue.

When a phone call arrives telling you that the star artist of your event has canceled. 

The reason?

Doesn’t matter. You are in a crisis now.

The crowd is waiting eagerly, screaming the artist’s name. And you just don’t know what to do because you don’t have an event crisis management plan ready. 

Scary right?

Doesn’t have to be, because we are going to tell you exactly what and how you should prepare for a crisis like this and worse.

A. What is a crisis?

A crisis is any event or occurrence that can lead to instability or danger affecting the outcomes of a planned and controlled situation. If not handled professionally, this can cause further harm to the image or reputation of the brand or organization.

Some examples of crises in events include technological failure, extreme weather conditions, venue changes, terrorist attack , and so on.

B. What is Event Crisis Management?

Event crisis management is the application of strategies to help a brand or organization identify and respond to a critical event while maintaining continuity. This actively involves implementing policies and procedures to defend, mitigate, and prevent a crisis. 

To handle a crisis efficiently, all organizations should have a sophisticated crisis management plan ready at hand. This will help managers identify signs, take precautionary measures, and create strategies to minimize the damage from a crisis.

Generally, there are 3 stages of crisis management-

  1. Pre-crisis

This stage occurs even before the crisis hits, and in most cases looks like any other day. This is the time when your team should be able to pick up warning signs and focus on preparation and prevention. Preparation includes developing an event crisis management plan, training the responsible team, and exercising to test the plan.

  1. Crisis stage

At this point, the organization starts to notice the first signs of a crisis unfolding. This is an acute phase where you can no longer prevent the crisis from happening. This entails rapidly responding and mitigating the event’s impact which can include conveying the message to the attendees or participants shortly after the event occurs.

  1. Post-crisis stage

At this stage, activities are getting back to normal. The focus on the crisis is gone and shifted to recovery and reputation repair so that the business can start resuming normal operations.

C. Why is Event Crisis Management Important?

Event crisis management not only helps you navigate through difficult times gracefully but keeps your reputation from falling apart. Here are some more reasons why crisis management is so important in the event industry-

  • If you have a well-prepared event crisis management plan, it can hugely minimize impact and enable you to take appropriate action swiftly
  • If any relationship strain occurs with vendors, suppliers, sponsors, or partners, an effective event crisis management plan can proactively address issues maintaining open communication and preserving business relationships
  • Crisis management enables your team to develop problem-solving skills by urging them to find innovative solutions to unexpected challenges. This acquired skillset will prove beneficial for even future management endeavors
  • Crisis event management contributes to learning and improvement by thoroughly evaluating the crisis management process
  • You can demonstrate leadership by making sure your team remains calm, decisive, and proactive. This can inspire confidence and trust among your team members and stakeholders

D. How to Build an Event Crisis Management Plan?

An event crisis management plan should be developed every time you plan an event taking into account possible challenges and difficulties. Here is how you can build one-

  1. Identify your audiences


Start by identifying the different types of people you will have to deal with during the time of a crisis. You can do this by picturing the people you are likely to meet in and around each one of your events. The list should typically include-

  • Attendees
  • On-site suppliers (security personnel, technology, promotion staff, venue, catering)
  • Partners including speakers, sponsors and exhibitors, journalists, and colleagues (on-ground and off-site)
  1. Set up an internal crisis management team

Once you have listed all the stakeholders, it is time to create your crisis management team. To do this the best way, we recommend you assign specific members for each of your audience groups having dedicated points of contact. This ensures that the responsibility is spread evenly between members and saves confusion during the actual crisis.

Each of the members should have the contact lists for their respective audience groups including mobile numbers, email addresses, and social media handles. You can collate these lists if you use an event registration software like Ticket Generator. This will make sure you are regularly updated and have the most current information on the day of your event.

  1. Lay out clear communication channels

The next smart thing to do is determine how you are going to communicate with all your stakeholders. Keep in mind that you will not have much time in a crisis so the communication has to be quick and clear. This will help you protect your organization's reputation on how well you manage the safety of your attendees.

One of the most important communication channels at this age is social media. Twitter is a powerful communication tool given the 24-hour information we currently live in. But it will not make much sense if your audience doesn't reside there. So, first, identify where most of your social media followers dwell and in which platform. Collaborating with media and influencers can also help you amplify your message.

Apart from social media, you can utilize email databases that you have collected during the registration process. Using an event app is also a great way to enable push notifications and put up notices on your event website.

Also, please note that not all of your stakeholders will be online or have access to the internet during the time of crisis. This may lead to them missing out on notices that you have posted online. Your management will be busy during the event and will probably need to be updated by phone. You can also communicate with your on-site team with group calls or via messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Sit down with your team and identify the most appropriate crisis communications plan for each of your audience plans. This should also include offline communications with all parties, because a major incident like a terrorist attack or earthquake may lead to unavailable mobile networks.

  1. Plan the communication

Once you have a good idea of how you will be reaching out to your stakeholders, it is time to build a communication plan. A crisis is very likely to ignite chaos, so you will have to be very careful of what you are communicating. The words should be carefully chosen; any sudden shock can trigger panic among the audience. Therefore, draft a plan and get it approved and ready to go. You can also create a detailed plan for all possible crises or have a more generalized one with clear action points.

  1. Prepare all possible crisis scenarios

Proactively start making a list of all crises that can potentially surround your events. This can range from a simple technical error to a dangerous terror attack, power outage, or fire.

The best way to start is by drafting key messages you want to communicate with each of your stakeholders. Be clear, transparent, and genuine, and keep public safety as the number one priority. Explain the scenario, the actions that need to be taken, your organization’s stance, the details, and when they should expect another update. Be very clear and concise with your information to minimize confusion, panic, and small speculation.

Finally, train your team members to act through different scenarios outlined in your plan. Make sure they don’t communicate wrong information as this will result in the audience being confused. Practice beforehand and conduct these exercises annually or around each event.

  1. Test the plan

Testing the plan will help in validating the event crisis management plan’s ongoing efficacy. This will ensure the plan is executed as designed and identify any gaps in the intended flow of operations.

The plan should be tested against specific scenarios like simulations of natural or human-made disasters that are common threats to your business. Scenario-based testing enables the team to ensure scenario-specific execution and messaging are delivered to the stakeholders.

While testing the plan, make sure to consider conditions such as

  • Human error - As crises are high-stress situations, there are high chances of error due to extreme pressure. Make sure the team is experienced and comfortable under pressure.
  • Delays- At a crucial time like a crisis, every second counts.  Make sure to digitize all possible crisis response actions using defined policies and an event management tool.
  • Dispersed workforce- The location of your response team also matters. If they are dispersed widely and in different locations, the risk of making errors increases.
  1. Stay cool and decisive

This is probably the most important thing to do in a time of crisis. It is going to be difficult so you have to be mentally prepare yourself before the event. Whenever any crisis hits, take a good minute to appraise the situation. Weigh your choices and then proceed decisively. Staying cool and collected will also help convince your colleagues and attendees that everything is under control.

E. Best Practices During an Event Crisis Management

  1. Identify capable team members and employees to make up the Crisis Committee. They should be in charge of communicating and mitigating the crowd during the event
  2. Identify the criteria to determine a crisis. Classify the types and intensity of events that could be classified as threats
  3. Have a monitoring system and practices in place to detect early warning signs or red flags of a potential crisis
  4. Shortlist the spokesperson for the crisis including a substitute, both prepared and trained. Don’t forget to media train as well
  5. Ready a list of emergency key contacts to find quickly, that runs 24x7
  6. Create a process for assessing incidents, their potential severity, and their impact on facilities and staff employees
  7. Identify crisis response procedures and emergency meeting points where the team members can meet. Also, keep an alternate place ready
  8. Update your crisis management team and plan regularly

F. The Final Checklist

Pre-crisis

  • Analyze risks, diagnose all possible situations, and create a well-defined roadmap to action
  • Be transparent and clear in decision-making
  • Draft your event crisis management plan
  • Keep all emergency contacts ready

During the crisis

  • Hold a quick meeting with the  crisis committee and make every person understand their roles and duties
  • Work together with all stakeholders keeping safety at the forefront
  • Encourage your team to find solutions
  • Make communications clear and concise
  • Use simple language and avoid technical or evasive language
  • Monitor media and public reaction 
  • Adopt an official spokesperson and speech for all interviews
  • Prepare for press interaction
  • Respect public feelings and expectations

DO NOT-

  • Make jokes
  • Undermine consequences
  • Shout and scream
  • Claim your business did not have any crisis preparedness or emergency plan

Post-crisis

  • Document the lessons learned and discuss the case with employees
  • Analyze what worked and what didn't and update your plan accordingly. Make sure the plan is actionable
  • Follow up with your stakeholders and participants

What’s next?

Every second matters during a crisis, so you have to make sure you do most of the preparatory work beforehand. To start with, implementing an automated end-to-end solution like Ticket Generator can help you manage your mitigation tasks effectively. Our platform can help you accelerate your speed and decisiveness while improving the accuracy of your organization by providing critical insights to your events and attendees.

Sign up now to know more!

Yashika Tangri

Yashika Tangri is an amazing marketing manager who operates from Trycon Technology's Noida office. Her name signifies success and fame, and she has certainly lived up to these expectations.

At work, Yashika is a highly efficient digital marketing organizer and a source of inspiration to her colleagues with her positive demeanor and professional work ethics. Despite being a lifelong student of science, Yashika decided to pursue a career in marketing in 2018.

After work hours, Yashika enjoys creating new playlists on Spotify, and she is an avid reader who finds solace in escaping reality through the pages of mythology books.