Tackling a Crisis — Our Crisis Simulation Week

As this academic year came to an end, during the #CrisisManagement sessions of #ADandPRLab, we carried out a Crisis Simulation for 4 days. Specifically, we were all divided into teams and asked to act as if we were in a crisis. For the following four days we had to analyze a hypothetical case/scenario from the perspective of the company being involved, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the media.

Day 4 of our Crisis Simulation Week — The TV Panel

Let’s see what the crisis was about

Greece offered to host diplomatic missions of Ukraine and the European Union in Athens. Serhii Danilov has been sick with nausea, stomach ache and fever. The hotel doctor who examined him thinks it’s about Food Poisoning.

Day 1

The Μinistry of Foreign Affairs’ perspective

We gathered the Ministry’s’ crisis management team. Ιt was a Special Situation. We called the Conorad hotel and requested all the details and certifications to revise any given information about the hotel.

Then we had to face the media. When addressed by them, we acknowledged the existence of an incident by not giving any information.

Media Perspective

Shocked by the news of the Ukrainian diplomat’s discomfort, we went on posting a website article informing the world about this fact, while waiting for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to act. After the unclear ministry’s press release, we decided to seek for answers by sending questions towards the ministry as well as Conorad. The ministry did not gave any information which made us think that the situation is uncontrollable. Conorad from the other hand answered to our questions rather quickly, ensuring us that there’s no other case like this.

As journalists, we have to share the information no matter if the people regarding this information haven’t addressed the matter. Our duty is to share facts with the world and inform them about every progress regarding this case. The Ministry didn’t care enough to share the information we requested, thus leaving the door open for further speculation.

Conorad Hotel Perspective

Τhe management and staff of the Conorad hotel, shocked by the discomfort of the Ukrainian diplomat, tried to deal with the crisis calmly, knowing from our side the correctness of the services and the measures governing our hotel.We have been in direct contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the media, confirming, based on the health protocols and measures taken by our hotel, that no responsibility has been attributed to date.

As a group of leading Conorad hotels, it is our duty to protect both the reputation and image of our hotel and our staff, confirming the health standards observed in our company.At the same time, we could not provide more information while respecting the health of our guests.

Day 2

The Μinistry of Foreign Affairs’ perspective

While waiting for the first doctor evaluation, the Ministry got informed of another Ukranian consultant experiencing similar symptoms of stomach disorders. We were in the incident phase.

We kept our communication and cooperation with the Conorad hotel to a maximum. Agreed to keep the matter under secrecy . We reassured them that everything was under control.

Media Perspective

After the leak of the new information regarding the discomfort of the second Ukrainian diplomat, we informed our viewers and then asked the Ministry and and Conorad for answers. The Ministry as well as Conorad delayed answering to our questions as much as possible and ended up giving unclear answers. Especially, Conorad, who had ensured us that there’s no other such case the day before, made us believe there’s a possibility of lying to the media.

Due to the lack of answers, we started making speculations about a possible attempted murder by poison, a kind of terrorist attack that seems to be a basic russian “move”, as we have seen in the past. Not only every clue led to this conclusion, but we also had to keep and increase our audience through interesting content.

Conorad Hotel Perspective

While waiting for the first evaluation from our hotel doctor for the first incident, we were informed that another Ukrainian consultant was experiencing similar symptoms of stomach upset. We were in the incident phase.

We kept our communication and close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the maximum extent possible in order not to make any statements that would give the wrong impression until the medical conclusion is reached.

While the media kept pressing us for answers, we and the Ministry proceeded with the necessary investigations and assured them that everything was under control, without giving details and facts.

Day 3

The Μinistry of Foreign Affairs’perspective

Our last update came on Friday. We were in touch with the hotel, following the same (no media leaks) plan. Finally, the medical results came in. Everything was clear. We released a public announcement addressing the people to end false accusations.

Media Perspective

Even though the Ministry eventually got the medical results, they never informed us about the diplomats’ sickness, even if they had told they would since the first day. Also, they made accusations about us sharing lies to the audience, ignoring the fact that we would never have made those speculations if their answers where clear. In fact, that’s what they were still doing, as instead of giving answers, the Ministry was putting the blame on the media.

Conorad Hotel Perspective

We have been in constant contact with the Ministry, continuing to avoid leaking more information and details of the case.

However, our latest update with the medical results confirmed that the hotel on its part is not responsible for the health conditions of the guests.We then issued a public statement to the public. Our responses to the media were given so as to make it clear that no responsibility can be thrown at our hotel for the incident, and diplomatically to their caustic questions, in order to maintain our good relations with them.

Day 4 - TV Panel

The scenario ended with a live TV panel. Representatives from the hotel, ministry & media came together live to discuss and fully examine the situation.

The Μinistry of Foreign Affairs’ perspective

Before the TV panel started, we conducted a mini-meeting. Of course, we came in touch with Conorad hotel representatives to agree on the same thesis. Our ministry kept a clear thesis of stating unchangeable- unquestionable facts. Medical results speak the truth and the two countries’ affairs are intact.

Media Perspective

The matter regarding a possible russian terrorist attack during the Ukrainian diplomats’ stay in Greece was denied by the Ministry, but they couldn’t be sure if something like this couldn’t have happened before they entered the country.

There wasn’t any coherence regarding the answers of the Ministry and those of Conorad, for example, there wasn’t clear if the doctor was employed by Conorad or if they were sent by the Ministry.

The Ministry was also constantly changing opinion about the importance of the matter, as sometimes referred to id as a national crisis and sometimes as if it was something that wasn’t very important.

Every journalist involved pressured the Ministry and Conorad to answer the questions they offered to the public… and they did! After this TV panel, everything was much clearer.

Conorad Hotel Perspective

Before the start of the TV panel, we held a mini meeting as the management of the Conrad group and came in touch with the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to have a common line of response. As a Conorad Group, we took a clear position on the statement of unalterable — undisputed facts. The medical results confirmed that the Conorad Group is not responsible for the incidents and the integrity of our services cannot be disputed.We made it clear to the media that the health of our guests is a priority for us and our hotels take care to protect it, always following the necessary measures.

Conclusion

Throughout this experience, we were able to apply everything we learned during this semester’s Crisis Management sessions into a real case. It was an incredible ride that showed us once again the great importance of calmness, attention to detail and teamwork! Moreover, we had the opportunity to work with our fellow students and star in an actual newscast, what was really exciting for everyone.

Huge thanks to Mania Xenou and Betty Tsakarestou for coordinating this Crisis Simulation!

Big thanks to all the teams involved in this project: Say it social, Adventure, New Horizons, T35 & META 4.

This article was written by Dimitris Margaritis, Maria Perou & Nikoletta Andreopoulou.

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Maria Perou

Maria Perou

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Communication, Μedia and Culture // Panteion University