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Crisis Proof

Has the year so far of covid pandemic changed the very definition of a crisis? We put that to a crisis management consultant, after reading his new book.

The man was Jonathan Hemus and his book is Crisis Proof: How to prepare for the worst day of your business life, that we’ve reviewed online. We wanted to ask about covid, because Jonathan only touched on it in the book – because let’s face it, businesses have had no shortage of pre-pandemic crises. But first we told him how, in a word, his book was humane. Whereas you might think of a crisis as a thing, he stressed how it’s made up of, and responded to by, humans.

That was good to hear, Jonathan replied, ‘because one of the things I set out to do was not write a kind of academic book, or to write a book purely for people who are already expert, crisis management professionals; I wanted it to resonate for someone who had an interest or involvement in crisis management; something people can read, use and understand. I didn’t want it to be about models and theories, but about people and techniques. So it sounds like I might have succeeded with that.’

We asked him two things; first, inevitably, about the covid pandemic, and how – given March will be the 12 month anniversary of the beginning of the UK’s first lockdown – it compares with what some might regard as a crisis – an incident or event such as a flood, fire, terror attack or rail, road or plane crash; something that may have lasting consequences, but – whether a bomb or the sinking of the Titanic – is soon over. By way of answering that, Jonathan began by giving us his consultancy Insignia’s own definition of a crisis:

Any sudden event or escalating issue that may significantly affect Insignia’s reputation and/or its ability to carry out its business.

By that definition, covid is certainly an ‘escalating issue’. We then went on to how security professionals fit with crisis management. More in the April 2021 print edition of Professional Security magazine.

About Jonathan Hemus

His book Crisis Proof was published by Rethink in 2020 (paperback, £14.99). He got into crisis management through PR; in 1999 he became head of crisis management for the PR firm Porter Novelli. Visit insigniacrisis.com (where you can use a scorecard to assess your crisis readiness) and jonathanhemus.com.


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