PR body and government security advisors launch a how-to guide for comms professionals on the preparation and management of threats from hostile actors.
Our world is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. That does not mean we have no influence over it. By identifying risks, anticipating and then planning for them we can mitigate their impact. Close collaboration for instance between communications teams and security operations lessens the harmful effects of terrorist incidents on businesses and communities.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has partnered with the government's Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). Today they launch a guide for communications’ professionals on the preparation and management of threats from hostile actors.
The guidance contains a comms toolkit and offers best practice advice on how and what to communicate during major incidents. It also stresses that point that comms can play a pivotal role in deterring terrorism, offering advice for businesses and brands on how to protect themselves.
Writing in the foreword CIPR president, Emma Leech, says: “Crisis response is the sharp end of our professional service, where communication, strategic planning and professional judgement coincide … As professionals we train to respond in a crisis and in turn we train others within our organisations to adopt a plan to meet the threats a crisis will bring.”
The comms toolkit is divided into three stages:
Communication during a crisis event
Communication after a crisis event
The guide explains that by planning in advance, having relationships and initial key outputs in place, organisations can ensure they are taking a leadership position as soon as a crisis occurs.
By planning well, practising frequently and having in place a co-ordinated effort; as well as understanding the vital role of strategic communications; a crisis can be well handled and well communicated.
Communicating bad news well, is now expected of all major organisations. As the result of actions of a hostile actor, the police will have the lead role in communicating to external audiences in an effective and timely fashion. However, the target organisation will remain important and should reinforce messaging and ensure that consistency and accuracy are maintained.
Restoration, not promotion is a strong theme for communications activities following a major incident. It is also important to take time to reflect after an incident, especially one by hostile actors. This may be a first for your organisation and any debrief can play a multifaceted role. It is important to take the opportunity to learn from what worked well and what could have gone better, embedding new ways of working, actively listening and responding to comments and views from your customers and staff; as well as providing an opportunity for all participants to reflect on their experiences.
The document is informed by CPNI research based on interviews with 30 communications heads and security professionals from 24 organisations that have experienced a terrorist-related incident.
CPNI is the government authority for protective security advice to the UK national infrastructure. Its role is to protect national security by helping to reduce the vulnerability of the national infrastructure to terrorism and other threats. CPNI is accountable to the Director General of MI5. There are also other nationally important assets or events, including high-profile iconic targets, where impact of damage would be equally serious even though these do not deliver an essential service. CPNI's advice delivery extends to help the protection of such assets and events.