Events professionals have a duty to protect visitors and employees. Here, Marie Lacey, account manager at drp, who heads up the agency’s crisis management team, discusses planning, communication and duty of care…

In the current climate, barely a week passes without press coverage of a new terror attack.

Its presence in the media reminds us of the risk and keeps it in the forefront of people’s minds. The most recent attack statistic I saw related to France – the chances of being killed in a terror attack were quoted at one per cent of one per cent. That’s how low the likelihood is. However, with prominent coverage, the fear remains prevalent and event organisers should be planning for attacks as a possibility.

Despite the existing terror threat in addition to the standard risks we face, many event organisers are neglecting to put any real thought into their crisis planning. As an industry, we are falling behind in this area and we need to take responsibility for rectifying this – and fast!

If the worst does happen and you do not have a crisis management plan in place, you may find yourself with difficult questions to answer in court. We have a duty of care to both our attendees and staff. Clear crisis planning is part of this and can reduce the impact of an emergency.

Industry-wide, we produce a huge range of events with a variety of budgets – it may not always be financially viable or sensible to create a large-scale crisis management plan, but what steps can we implement and how can we go about this?

  • Define a crisis – ensure your teams understand what constitutes a genuine crisis.
  • Know your command structure – ensure you know who your key crisis strategists are.
  • Know your contact structure – know how you activate your crisis plan and reach your strategists – 24 hours a day.
  • Liaise with your key suppliers – your crisis procedures should work alongside each other.
  • Have social media guidelines – have a social media policy before a crisis occurs. A handful of poorly worded tweets could escalate a minor crisis to a full-scale PR disaster.

These are some top-level areas which can be used as a starting point for the creation of your crisis plans and should cover all areas of your event. Crisis documents should be dynamic, considering everything from the cloakroom through to your client contacts.

And finally, we are discussing crisis plans in relation to the terror threat because this appears to be people’s primary concern at the moment. Your event is much more likely to suffer a crisis based around the transport/weather/equipment/human error than any attack scenario. Your crisis planning should be robust and transferable to any situation. My key advice is always the same – keep your plans short, clear and flexible and make it part of your event agenda.