Survey Shows the Need for Crisis Plans — and Training

Thom Weidlich 03.02.23


Online software marketplace Capterra Inc. has an interesting survey out about companies’ crisis communications. It’s especially enlightening on crisis communications planning. Here’s an overview.

Capterra’s 2023 Crisis Communications Survey, published Feb. 23, was conducted in January with 243 respondents at the director level or above.

The bad news: Fewer than half (49 percent) the respondents said they had a formal crisis communications plan; 28 percent said they have an informal, or undocumented, one. As Arlington, Virginia-based Capterra notes in its report, an informal plan is better than none at all, but still.

The good news: A whopping 98 percent of respondents who activated a crisis plan said it was effective — 77 percent said it was very effective. And 72 percent of those said, after using such a plan, they would broaden its scope. Even more (84 percent) said they would increase practicing the plan.

‘More Practice’

Capterra’s take away from this (and we agree) is that companies are underestimating how much training is needed to respond to a crisis effectively. Capterra included in its report four quotes (we wish there were more!) from respondents who had experienced a crisis. Said one: “More practice so people don’t panic and are more aware of what to do.” Exactly.

Leaders at companies with a documented plan were asked which departments were involved in developing it. By far, IT management was included most often (91 percent). IT was followed by business operations (83 percent) and public relations (81 percent). Other often-tapped departments: facilities/physical security, customer relations, legal/compliance, regulatory affairs, human resources and finance.


More practice so people don’t panic and are more aware of what to do.


— survey respondent

In a fascinating finding, many respondents said their companies need to do a better job of knowing — when a crisis hits — where employees, especially leaders, are working. Perhaps this stems from the rampant remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “HR and admin need to be aware of principals’ working locations at all times,” one respondent said.

Bomb Scare

Said another: “Department heads should all have a full roster of staff on duty in the building so everyone can be accounted for. We had a bomb scare and could not find HR with the list of staff, and it was chaos.”

The survey shows the variety of crises that hit companies, which means their crisis preparation should be varied and flexible. More than a quarter (28 percent) of the crises experienced were cyberattacks, but that was closely followed by technology failures (22 percent). Others included workplace violence or threats (19 percent), health-related crises (16 percent), natural disasters (9 percent) and PR crises (6 percent).

All in all the report provides some good data on why crisis communications plans — and training — are so important.

Photo Credit: Fizkes/Shutterstock

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