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Disaster Simulations Led by the American Red Cross and Hill+Knowlton Strategies Prepare Organizations to React, Respond and Engage in Times of Crisis
|By Business Wire
|March 9, 2014 10:50 AM EDT
The American Red Cross and Hill+Knowlton Strategies have partnered to
provide a comprehensive simulation experience utilizing a sophisticated
online dashboard that allows organizations to test and improve their
communications response during times of disaster. The announcement was
made today in Austin during a SXSW Interactive panel
series hosted by Hill+Knowlton Strategies (Nano Size Me: The rise of
the micro entrepreneur, the need for nano targeting and the power of
“Consequences of an organization’s conduct during a natural or man-made
disaster have always lasted far beyond the conclusion of the crisis, but
the evolution of digital communications channels makes that more true
today than ever before,” said Josh Hendler, chief technology officer at
Hill+Knowlton Strategies and architect of the Flight School: Disaster
Preparedness platform. “Through social media, organizations have the
power to influence public behavior at the level of the individual user,
at the speed of light, in a time when every second counts.
Communications teams must know how to manage the conversation if they
want to play a meaningful role in helping people during a disaster, and
protecting the long-term reputation and viability of their organization.”
“Helping individuals, families and communities know what do during an
emergency is a key part of our disaster response efforts and a skill we
exercise every day at the Red Cross,” said Laura Howe, vice president of
public relations for the American Red Cross. “This partnership allows
the Red Cross to share its communication knowledge and knowhow with
other organizations responsible for keeping the public safe and informed
during emergencies. It’s one more way we can work to keep communities
In a crisis — be it a natural disaster, or a situation where there is a
threat to the health and safety of people and their possessions — the
public needs meaningful and timely information so they can stay safe or
lend a helping hand. This joint offering from the American Red Cross and
H+K Strategies will empower local governments, first responders, health
providers, financial institutions, utilities and other organizations to
provide useful and actionable information to employees, customers and
the public in a crisis situation.
“How an organization communicates with the public in these moments is
about much more than its reputation or bottom line — it is about helping
the individuals, families and communities that are affected,” said
Robert Ludke, head of the H+K Strategies corporate advisory practice.
“If an organization is committed to being a responsible actor in
society, and being character-driven, it must be on the front lines of
responding to a crisis.”
The American Red Cross’s communications and social teams work around the
clock to facilitate relief efforts around the country. Winning numerous
industry awards, ARC has continued breaking new ground on leveraging
social and digital media in emergency response situations. H+K
Strategies, a global communications consultancy with a long history of
advising clients of all types in crisis scenarios, developed its Flight
School platform to allow clients to experience, in a controlled
setting, a realistic simulation of what happens in the event of a crisis.
Flight School: Disaster Preparedness helps:
Test internal social media policies, protocols and/or procedures for
Highlight strengths and priority areas for improvement
Build teams’ confidence in dealing with real issues and responding to
likely disaster scenarios
Improve teamwork in a high-pressure situation, especially the unique
challenges posed in responding to events generated by a natural
How it works
Flight School uses a sophisticated online dashboard that simulates
social and traditional media activity, live callers role-playing as
reporters and third parties, and mobile integration via SMS alerts — all
combining to create a fully immersive experience. Participants become
players in a customized scenario that plays out across the news media,
Twitter, Facebook, internal company communications channels and other
popular platforms. It requires participants to engage and react rapidly
in real time. From issuing a press release to responding to information
requests via Twitter, H+K Strategies and ARC facilitators can monitor
and evaluate participant reactions within a completely secure, private
A team of trained ARC and H+K Strategies facilitators who have
experience managing disaster response control the action behind the
scenes, simulating public activity in a live setting. This lets the
participants rehearse, in a closed environment, how best to respond to
audiences on social and traditional media channels.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to
victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood;
teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid;
and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a
not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the
generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more
information, please visit redcross.org
or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
About Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Inc. is a leading international communications
consultancy, providing services to local, multinational and global
clients. The firm is headquartered in New York, with 88 offices in 49
countries, as well as an extensive associate network. The agency is part
of WPP, the world’s largest communications services group. For more
information, please visit www.hkstrategies.com.
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