When when a crisis occurs, an up-to-date plan of action is vital, especially in our new, instant world of social media. Last month, our clients the Caribbean Tourism Organisation held an event in our offices to share knowledge and experience relating to a variety of crisis circumstances. Speakers included a journalist and media training expert, representatives from ABTA, a speaker from on the ground in the Caribbean and two PR and marketing professionals who provided best-practice case studies. This variety of presentations was key to the event as it gave a fully rounded view of what happens in crises – who to contact on the ground, who you contact for advice abroad, what is the best way to handle the press and, of course, case studies have the benefit of hindsight in showing what works and what does not. In the past crisis comms experts talked about ‘the golden hour’ - the critical time when a company could respond well or badly to a crisis. Now news is instant and organisations need to be listening and responding in the most proactive and effective way from the minute an incident starts. In order to do this, organisations and companies really do need to be ready, so they have a support network that can be instantly activated in order to get the right messaging out to media and the public. Social media also allows for more direct conversations so communication needs to be proactive and not just responsive. It’s also critically important that organisations respond on the same social media platform where issues are being raised. The ‘golden hour’ may be gone but social media can be supportive in a crisis and a first-rate crisis communications plan including social media listening and engagement will ensure you know what to say, to whom and when. The outcomes of this interesting day, full of discussion and debate, was that crises can come in all shapes and sizes, from natural disasters and outbreaks of sickness to high profile incidents with celebrities and the development of social media has most certainly changed crisis communications.