Connecting during an international crisis in 2020

28th January 2020

In 2018/2019, Australians broke a new record with 11.2M residents embarking on short terms trips across the four corners of the globe. New Zealand, Indonesia, USA, UK and China topping our top 5 destinations (ref: abs.gov.au). Travelling overseas is just what we do.

Top 5 destination countries June 2009 to June 2019 — year ending
Short-term resident returns, Australia

Top 5 destination countries

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The threat landscape of 2019 however, continued to deliver punch after sobering punch with major events unfolding across each and every one of Australia’s favourite business and holiday destinations. Upon quick reflection, the following events are a very brief snapshot:

  • The Novel Coronavirus (also referred to as the Wuhan Coronavirus) outbreak – China
  • The Mt White eruption – New Zealand
  • The Christchurch mosque shootings – New Zealand
  • Violent protest activity – Hong Kong
  • London Bridge stabbing attack – United Kingdom
  • Eruptions of Mt Agung on Bali and Mt Sinabung on Sumatra – Indonesia
  • One of the deadliest climbing seasons on Mt Everest
  • Typhoons during Rugby World Cup – Japan
  • Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas
  • Californian wildfires – USA


As we write this, it has been reported that 400 people have already registered with DFAT for assistance to exit one of China’s region’s in lockdown (source: SBS news) due to the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus. With a duty of care for business travellers, and in some case customers (students and tour groups), these events illuminate the need for leadership teams to rethink their crisis response and adopt technology for a more successful crisis management.

HOW CAN TECHNOLOGY IMPROVE A CRISIS RESPONSE
When an event unfolds and you have people exposed, speed of response and communication becomes absolutely critical. Getting information to and from your most important stakeholders can be the difference between “safe” and “exposed”. This is where technology can compliment traditional crisis management practices by reducing the time lag in connecting with stakeholders.

Three steps you can take today that are going to pay big returns when “Game Day” does arrive:

1. Familiarise your team with CQ (or equivalent)

2. Run test communications with your contact groups to increase engagement

3. Pre-draft communication templates

Whilst under pressure during a crisis, the people that will need to communicate won’t be as effective if they need to learn a new tool or process. Schedule some time to walk through CQ’s mass communications module with your team. Specifically the team that is likely going to be at the helm in communicating to stakeholders en-masse. CQ has simplified mass communications to make this a three step process:

  • Log in
  • Click “Notify Contacts”
  • Select the appropriate message template and relevant contact group and hit “Send”


Familiarising your team should also mean having the link to CQ available on your browser on the teams work laptop, but we would also advocate its available on their smart phones. Crises do not always take place when you’re in the office!

Data integrity is key. As is familiarity in receiving messages from your Crisis Communications tool. Building up your contact groups by area, stakeholder type etc. ahead of an event will allow you to mass communicate with absolute speed via SMS during an event. By running regular SMS tests, you will be able to build familiarity with your audience in receiving the messages, as well as ensure that their details are correct.

CQ’s open API will also assist in increasing data integrity but regular SMS communication tests will help your team identify anomalies in the data. SMS test should include communications with your stakeholders whilst overseas.

Putting a few minutes aside today to draft some basic communication templates will help you move forward with speed during a critical event. Having several communication templates built out now will mean that you can simply select your preferred message on the day. This will help you avoid the indecisiveness that can occur whilst under extreme pressure.

If you’re not in charge of stakeholder communications, and or a tool or platform that you use to undertake mass communications, then find out who is. In 2020, no organization can afford for a disconnect to occur between its Crisis or Critical Incident Response team, and its communications platform.
Technology can help distil the vast amount of information coming from various sources, and help crisis teams separate fact from fiction for more informed decision making. Most importantly, crisis response technology would enable the crisis team to seamlessly connect and coordinate with their teams – wherever they are.

FINDING THE RIGHT CRISIS MANAGEMENT TOOL
Finding the right crisis management tool can be challenging if you’re unsure of what you’re looking for. When comparing tools, ask yourself if the tool can empower you to:

  • effectively distil information and separate fact from fiction.
  • immediately activate a crisis event.
  • quickly stand up a team.
  • provide intelligence and automate critical decisions.
  • communicate en-mass with 2-way messaging.
  • poll your stakeholders to identify who needs help.


These are just some of the questions you need to be asking yourself and your team. Before adopting any crisis management tool, always take advantage of a free demo to ensure the tool is fit for purpose. If you need help looking for the right tool, connect with our CQ team today.

Marcus Vaughan

Marcus Vaughan | Chief Growth Officer
Catalyst Technologies

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