Crisis communications

The environment created by a crisis is different to business as usual: it is fast-paced, complex and uncertain.

The evolving digital world is bringing fresh demands for crisis management, demands that are now more focussed than ever on a transparent and timely response.

It is essential that your crisis communications strategy meets these challenges, and that your organisation, and its reputation, is protected. We work with you to develop and implement a strategy for crisis communications that is attuned to modern media consumption trends.

Alcovia — our issues testbed

When we coach business executives in crisis communications, we strive for immersion and realism. But it’s not always possible to practice a crisis communications strategy in the real world without plunging a business into a genuine disaster.

Alcovia is the name of our fictitious nation, a fully-realised world with its own internal and international dynamics. It’s where our crisis communications training takes place — a safe, simulated environment that’s insulated from the outside world, but that mirrors it in all material respects. Alcovia is where we put our delegates’ decision-making, strategic thinking and communications skills to the test.

By using a fictional country instead of a real one, we are able to exert greater control over characters, events and settings in order to fashion a crisis with a credible, complex and compelling. We apply the restraints of a real nation’s history, politics and culture however necessary to craft a narrative that’s representative of the world in which our clients operate.

Within our simulated world, we test crisis communications strategies at several different levels of abstraction, and evaluate these outcomes to give feedback on their respective success. It’s a process that helps delegates conceptualise and develop a winning strategy for effective crisis management. Learn more by taking a look at our SABMiller crisis communications case study.

A 360º simulation

We’re not the first to construct a fictional environment in which to explore a series of strategic and tactical challenges. There are precedents for imagined nations that deliberately resemble or represent a real-world country, some of which are constructed simply to pass commentary without vilifying an actual people. The fictional Tomania (a parody of Nazi Germany) serves as the setting for Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, and skewers a regime famous for religious bigotry, diplomatic bullying, and violations of civil liberties.

Other worlds have been constructed for more tactical purposes. In 1900, Winston Churchill published his only major fictional work, Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania. The Republic of Laurania is a fictional European State modelled after the Metaxas dictatorship in Greece and — unsurprisingly — commentators have taken Savrola as a playground for Churchill’s own political ideas. The work chronicles how political and social unrest turns to violent revolution, and is something of an exercise in crisis communications, albeit a disastrous one:

The crowd rounded the carriage crying: ‘What has happened? Is all well? Speak, Godoy. Speak! But he would have none of them… Then began a period of wild rumour… The noise of the multitude changed into a dull dissonant hum of rising anger.

Simulated worlds are often used as effective means of teaching or demonstrating concepts that might otherwise be too abstract to comprehend. A world like Alcovia allows us to explore any scenario in any context we can imagine, giving delegates a meaningful understanding of how to manage a crisis — should they ever face one in the real world. ​