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2023 Trends Report: Crisis management and cybersecurity

2023 Trends Report: Crisis management and cybersecurity

You’ve seen it before; a lock and key representing the idea of cybersecurity. It’s interesting to note that the artificial intelligence behind the creation of this image was also inclined to follow this path. However, this image in the style of Georgia O’Keefe included a touch of abstraction thanks to the eye and what is possibly a code.

Here are the trends our experts in crisis management and cybersecurity see for 2023:

Leadership will continue to be crucial during a crisis

Leadership during crises has always been important—and 2023 will be no different. For example, with the risk of cybercrime, leaders must be ready.

  1. Being prepared: As the old saying goes, the best defence is a good offence. In crisis communications, this means leaders ensuring the organization is prepared by identifying its highest impact crisis scenarios and having specific plans to respond to each.

  2. Building a strong culture: An organization with a solid workplace culture is in a stronger position to manage and recover from a crisis. Leadership is critical for building collaborative, engaged and resilient workforces that can withstand and rebound from crises.

  3. Providing clear and consistent communications: No news is not always good news. Providing regular updates with clear messages during crises will help ensure people have the information they need, while also helping to demonstrate that leaders have the situation under control.

  4. Showing authenticity and empathy: During a crisis, leaders should go beyond the corporate speak and adopt a more human-centric approach. Leaders who show they genuinely understand how a crisis is affecting others will make deeper connections with their employees and stakeholders.

Luc Levasseur, Senior Vice-President and Practice Lead, Corporate and Public Affairs

Canada’s evolving news media landscape

Ownership of Canadian news outlets is becoming increasingly concentrated, meaning fewer jobs in newsrooms and, arguably, less diversity of views. As a result, trust in the news media has sunk to its lowest point in years.

This could be an issue when dealing with a crisis, since journalists will be your point of contact to maintain an open channel of communication with the public to reinforce your narrative.

Although staying silent during challenging times may be appealing, a more transparent approach is the better option. As your conduits to the public, journalists play a critical role in your crisis management plan.

The fewer professional journalists of today are, by necessity, more likely to be generalists. This implies an expanded role for media relations professionals, who must now “educate” the media on niche topics that specialized journalists of the past would have mastered. Therefore, you must communicate both the specifics of the crisis and background information on the broader context.

At the end of the day, ensuring the media understands the big picture will pay dividends in establishing a relationship of trust with the broader public and, indeed, all stakeholders.

Larry Markowitz, Senior Director, Financial Communications

Business continuity and high team turnover

Teams are facing higher levels of turnover than before, which means that institutional knowledge is leaving organizations. This outflow of skills and training can make organizations less elastic, and less prepared, to respond in the event of a crisis.

Do you remember the last time your crisis management plan was tested, or who is responsible for maintaining it? Are you confident that you could execute the plan as designed and that it would achieve your objectives?

If you can answer yes to all the questions above, bravo! In the more likely event that you are unable to answer them all, you are certainly not alone. To that end, here are three actions that you can take to improve your organization’s resiliency and ability to respond:

  1. Establish crisis plan maintenance as a core accountability

  2. Socialize crisis plans at all levels of your organization so that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident

  3. Increase the frequency of table-top exercises to test your plan with all your team members, both new and experienced

Increasing your organization’s resiliency is an evergreen endeavour and shouldn’t be viewed as a one-off effort.

Jordan Redshaw, Director

Being better prepared against cyber attacks

Cyber attacks are the fastest growing crime in the world. They are increasing in size, sophistication, and cost at a staggering rate. 88% of organizations worldwide experienced phishing attempts in 2019. On average, only 5% of corporate records are properly protected. Over 77% of organizations do not have an incident response plan.

It is not a question of if, but when you will be targeted!

In 2023, the trend will no longer be to deal with such an incident when it occurs. The only solution is to be well prepared, by developing a response plan before the storm hits.

In short, we must take responsibility, identify our blind spots and areas of vulnerability, fully understand the new legal obligations, mobilize and raise the awareness of our internal troops, secure our systems, and strengthen our practices.

Otherwise, we could be condemned to pay the cost.

Julie-Anne Vien, Managing Partner

Increased expectations for transparency

Heightened consumer expectations for openness and transparency from organizations and leadership will continue into next year. Whether it’s living up to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments, timely disclosures about a cyber incident, or being forthright about executive malfeasance, internal and external stakeholders expect that organizations will be open and transparent.

Transparency is fundamental to trust, and nowhere is the need for transparency more acute than in issues and crisis management. Behind the scenes, many organizations are balancing legal advice, which is typically to say ‘nothing’ to mitigate litigation risk, and communications advice to say ‘something’ to maintain the trust of stakeholders.

When in doubt, we counsel organizations to move away from legal reluctance to speak to an issue. Organizations that communicate in an open and timely manner can benefit from the first-mover advantage and influence and shape the story. Providing facts helps fill the information void and establishes the organization as ‘the source’ of information.

Overall, organizations that maintain the trust and confidence of their stakeholders communicate openly and honestly in good times and bad.

Karen White, Vice-President, Crisis and Issues Management