Crisis management adviser Melissa Agnes keynotes May 18 WIN breakfast
If you go
What: Western Industrial Nevada (WIN) breakfast meeting
When: 7-9 a.m. Friday, May 18
Where: Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, Reno
Tickets: $20 for WIN members; $35 for non-members
More online: winevada.com
RENO, Nev. — In 2010, Melissa Agnes, a digital strategist at the time, got a call from a Montreal-based client of hers whose website had just launched.
That day, a rumor was spreading on Twitter that one of the real estate investment trust’s buildings was about to explode. It gained so much traction, in fact, that media outlets were reporting it as breaking news.
Since the company didn’t know what Twitter was, they called Agnes. Little did Agnes know, she had been readily prepared for such a moment.
Within a half-hour, Agnes — who at the time had been reading “everything I could get my hands on” regarding crisis management — put out the figurative fire and had the media backpedaling into corrections. What’s more, her client did not take a reputational hit in the aftermath; in fact, its unit price went up a cent.
“That’s when I decided to jump and start on this path,” Agnes said in a phone interview with the NNBW.
Eight years later, Agnes has not only kept on that path, she is widely considered a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management and brand protection.
“What I do is help organizations become what I call ‘crisis ready’ and help them build ‘brand invisibility,’” said Agnes, who works with everyone from NATO and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs to universities and nonprofits. “And that’s so their entire team — and it doesn’t matter the size or industry — knows what risk looks like, how to detect it, how to assess it in real time and how to a respond in a way that increases the trust and credibility that their stakeholders have in the brand.”
Author of the recently published “Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World,” Agnes will spread that message and more at the next Western Industrial Nevada (WIN) breakfast meeting May 18 at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno.
Avoiding playing catch-up
“We live in a world with increased risk, whether we’re looking at cybersecurity or workplace violence or societal trends…” she said.
Agnes said there was a time when organizations would simply create a crisis plan and “put it on a shelf” and the leadership would grab it in the wake of a crisis and it would guide them to success.
That’s no longer the case.
“The reality today,” Agnes said, “is the speed at which everything escalates and spirals out of control … by the time you reach for that plan, you’re already playing catch-up.”
Simply put, the longer an organization takes to respond effectively to a viral issue or crisis, the more of a “crisis response penalty” (CRP) it will experience, Agnes said. She said a CRP looks at the monetary and reputational impact of a delayed response to a crisis.
She pointed to the infamous Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal as a recent example.
“If Facebook had been crisis-ready, they wouldn’t have been in crisis mode,” Agnes said. “The reality is that this was an issue that was lingering for four years that they never successfully managed.”
One of the many reasons viral crises are more and more prevalent, Agnes said, is because stakeholder expectations in a brand have turned into stakeholder demands.
“The organizations that aren’t prepared suffer more consequences because it’s just unacceptable,” she said. “It’s not really forgivable by stakeholders, especially with all of the decisions and choice that we have as consumers, whether we’re talking B2B or B2C.”
At the upcoming WIN breakfast on May 18, Agnes said she would ask the audience to think of a crisis that scares them because “they know they aren’t ready for it,” and examine the challenges and struggles that will pop up in time of a viral issue or crisis.
In addition, she will breakdown the CRP and what ask the audience what it personally means to their organization.
At the end of her talk, Agnes said attendees would walk away with practical strategies that they can start implementing in an effort toward being crisis ready.
“Organizations,” Agnes said, “are starting to wake up and say, what if this happens to us? Are we ready? And what does being ready mean?”
This weekend camp event is for girls ages 10 to 14 from low-income communities in Northern Nevada and will focus on energy, sustainability, science and technology, engineering and math, as well as leadership development, communication, collaboration and problem solving.