Gallagher’s 2018 report: The growing need for crisis resilience

August 16, 2018 • 3 minute read

As we bid farewell to our summer interns, we’re publishing a series of posts they wrote based on interviews with Infinite Global staff.

The fundamentals of crisis communications don’t change much, but the flavors of crises do. From high-profile data breaches to individual criminality, corporate collapses and terrorist attacks, the risk landscape for business continues to shift and intensify.

So, how are these complex risks being perceived in the board room? New research by the London office of US insurance broker Gallagher offers interesting insights into corporate attitudes toward crisis risk and prevention, with clear lessons for businesses on both sides of the pond.

The risk you can’t afford

Gallagher polled 100 leaders of large businesses across the UK economy to gauge their views on the risks their organizations face and what measures, if any, they have taken over the last year to boost their organizations’ crisis readiness.

Among the headlines: Crises are becoming more routine. More than 50% of large UK businesses polled experienced a crisis over the last 12 months. The most frequent crisis event was a data breach or cyberattack, with 27% of respondent firms affected.

“This new research demonstrates that the importance of crisis resilience is high on boardroom agendas,” commented Peter Barrett, UK crisis communications lead at Infinite Global. “The volume, complexity and interconnectedness of the contemporary risk landscape are such that organizations cannot afford to disregard their crisis response responsibilities. Crisis incidents are a matter of when, not if.”

Social media plays a role in crisis communications plans

Gallagher’s research also underscored the need to constantly review crisis protocols and test their efficacy in crisis scenarios. Social media, particularly, is a helpful tool for assessing crisis protocols. Among those polled, 71% use social media to proactively monitor and track incidents as they progress, through Twitter or other social media platforms.

Social media can also serve as a backup communications tool in the event of a systemic IT failure. For example, a company can alert its staff to the crisis through a backup messaging system such as WhatsApp. However, many companies fail to use social media as a crisis response tool. According to Gallagher, 31% of large UK businesses still do not have any sort of social media established to alert their company of a crisis. Considering the alarming number of cybersecurity breaches, backup crisis communications plans should be considered a necessity for all companies.

A detailed, ongoing process

“It is encouraging to see organizational leadership taking positive and responsible attitudes toward investing in crisis preparedness initiatives,” says Peter. “However, it is important to recognize that the devil is always in the details. Leaders’ enthusiasm for and belief in undertaking crisis resilience work does not necessarily mean the organization is crisis resilient.

“Crisis resilience is also not a one-time event,” adds Peter. “It’s an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance, investment and renewal. Too many organizations find that out the hard way.”

In other words, it is not enough to understand the risk of a damaged reputation; each organization must act to create a protocol for crises.

Want to know more about crisis communications? Learn about how Infinite Global’s helps companies protect their reputations in the face of a crisis.  

Lindsey Lubowitz is completing an internship at Infinite Global before returning to Northwestern University, where she is a rising sophomore majoring in Journalism.