5 Takeaways on Crisis Planning & Response from ACC Annual Meeting Presentation

During this year's Association of Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting, which took place virtually from October 18-21, Principal Susan Smith (San Francisco) spoke on a panel, "The New Crisis Management Playbook: What Living through a Global Pandemic Has Taught the Multinational Company," with Daina Borteck (Senior Counsel, Kyowa Kirin), Bob McNaney (Senior Vice President, Padilla Associates), and Sandy Paik (General Counsel, DC Green Bank). Below Susan recaps five takeaways from the presentation.

1. Crisis management is a business continuity issue.

Your business exists only because of your people. Take care of your people first.

2. Preparation is essential for success.

Have a plan that is industry-, company-, and risk-specific, and update it regularly. Companies, leadership, management, staff, facilities, risks, regulations (and regulators), best practices, technologies, and other factors continually evolve. Plans and protocols become stale quickly and must be updated often.

3. You won’t know what does and does not work until you practice.

Real-life drills and table-top exercises are essential to ensure that the crisis response plan can be implemented effectively and is a “good fit” for the company.

4. Consider third-party support.

A “crisis coach” or coordinator can be invaluable in assisting with the implementation of the crisis response plan, providing support and perspective to the core internal crisis response team (all of whom have other primary jobs to do!), maintaining focus, and keeping the process on track and moving forward. (“Disaster fatigue” and burnout are real and not uncommon. An exhausted and inattentive leader, or a misstep at the wrong moment, can transform a small manageable crisis into an enterprise-threatening event if not properly addressed and managed.)

5. Recognize the gaps.

Evaluate the skills and capacity of your internal team leaders, and have a plan to supplement the team with known and trusted external talent when the need arises. This could include technical support, logistics and operations, PR and communications, and legal counsel with skills and experience beyond the in-house counsel team. Think ahead to identify where “surge capacity” may be necessary to effectively respond to a crisis.

Beveridge & Diamond helps organizations tackle any type of environmental crisis or incident – before, during, and after it occurs. We provide quick, solid, thoughtful, organized, and strategic support to help our clients effectively and proactively manage crises and demonstrate strong corporate citizenship.

We offer digital "go bags," checklists, and other resources to help in-house legal teams and business leaders prepare for the next crisis. To discuss these issues and access these materials, please contact Susan Smith (+1.415.262.4023,[email protected]) or any member of our Crisis Planning & Response team.