Event Crisis Management: Handling unexpected situations with grace

The holidays are a time for celebration. But for event planners, it can be a time filled with stress, thinking of the possible crises that can arise. Luckily, your friends at Obsidian have put together a guide to prevent your issue from snowballing. Check out these tips that are sure to keep your events off the naughty list.

What is event crisis management?

Event crisis management may seem like an in-the-moment response to a crisis that happens at a function. In reality, it’s a preplanned strategy with assigned roles and actions that will guide how you respond to unanticipated issues that could happen at your upcoming event. Managing a crisis right as it happens is just as important as containing a fire the second it starts. The longer you leave it, the worse it gets. Implementing procedures and moving quickly is the best way to minimize the fallout and prevent any damage to your organization’s reputation.

Have a plan in place.

Crisis management is about preparation, flexibility and agility. Take the time to sit down with your event team and brainstorm all of the possible situations that could take place. Consider factors like weather, unruly guests or even technical problems. (Seriously, there is no bigger enemy to an event planner than technology. There are ALWAYS technical problems.) The National Security Council devised a National Crisis Management Framework to utilize for crisis preparation. While this was mainly developed for national emergencies, its core framework fits events of any kind. They utilize the five Ps of crisis management in developing a response plan: Predict, Prevent, Prepare, Perform and Post Action Assessment. Utilizing these can increase preparedness and the likelihood of a successful response to any unwanted situation during an event.

Delegate and communicate.

A plan is only as useful as the team that executes it. Communicate roles with your team to ensure everyone knows the prescribed course of action for outlined situations. Delegating tasks is crucial, but so is understanding the big picture. Team members should know their responsibilities, but also who is to handle other elements of the response, like speaking to guests or media, calling security or emergency personnel, or managing vendors. It is also crucial to have prepared responses to varying situations that may need to be disseminated to attendees or possibly the media, depending on the scale of the crisis. 

Recovering from a crisis.

In the same fashion you would craft a game plan for handling an event crisis, you should have a plan for proper post-event recovery. We recommend making a recovery checklist (and checking it twice). Things to think about include responding to negative reviews or social media conversations, requests for refunds or ongoing news coverage. Getting through the challenge at the event is only the first part of the process – you need to be prepared for ongoing monitoring, evaluation and response as long as the situation warrants. 

Handling a crisis can be challenging and scary. But as long as you have a plan in place and communicate, you are sure to handle it with grace. Keep in mind, if you ever need extra help, you can always call on your friends here at Obsidian to guide you through.