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Crisis Simulation Insights


In December, I attended my second in-residence as a part of the MSC degree from Northwestern. We broke into small groups and participated in a crisis simulation based on a major data breach at a fictional, hilarious company, Zephyr Airlines.


The Zephyr crisis simulation gave me the opportunity to collaborate with other communications professionals in an increasingly complex situation. This experience was different from my professional crisis experience because of the complexity, length, and opportunity to work as a team to align messages while sharing them broadly for different stakeholders. A few things this simulation taught me:

  • You have to dig deep for truthful information; if you communicate before you have that, you risk ruining your reputation (unless your audiences trust you enough to allow you to say, "I don't know."

  • You cannot always rely on organizational leadership to manage a crisis or serve as the best and most credible sender of the message. I've been lucky that leadership in my current organization is thoughtful and hands-on.

  • The entrance and exit of a press conference is as important as the message, and the media can edit the video to tell the part of the story they want to tell.

  • Previously nurtured relationships will be crucial in a crisis.

  • Work to build stability even if it feels like there is none.


Edit in July 2020: Little did I know that the most complex crisis of our lifetime would soon hit our Manhattan hospital. These bullet points hold true.




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(c) 2020 Stephanie J Ramos