Kicking off this year’s educational sessions for the PPAI Expo Direct-2-You, Jamie Watson, MAS, CPA, senior financial analyst at Certified Marketing Consultants LLC, led hundreds of attendees through “Plan C(risis): Building A Resilient Company.” In this straightforward 52-minute virtual session, Watson discussed what a crisis looks like and describes the different types of crises a business can face. Attendees left with actionable planning strategies and best practices to set their companies up for success.

Watson began the session with a quote from Karl Schroeder: “Foresight is not about predicting the future. It’s about minimizing surprise.” According to Watson, there are five key types of crises: financial, public relations, natural, personnel and technological. “They do not often emerge alone,” she says. “They intertwine, and it’s a big messy ball of which crisis came first because one might cause another.”

For a business, Watson says a true crisis poses some sort of financial threat. A crisis can be defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger, or as a time when a difficult or important decision must be made. “You can see there is a paradox between the need for critical thinking and the difficulty to critical think during a crisis. It makes a crisis seem insurmountable,” she says. “Psychologically, we are all wired with this fight, flight or freeze instinct when it comes to danger. In a business crisis, none of those really work.”

In a situation when your thoughts and emotions are all over the place, a good crisis management plan is the framework you need to begin navigating your way out of that crisis. “As the world changes, these crises evolve,” says Watson. “And so, our response to them must also evolve.” Watson guided attendees through the detailed five steps to crisis management: start with a strong foundation, focus on what you can control, evaluate your priorities, communicate a decisive action plan and look for new opportunities. “The real work begins when the storm is brewing,” she says.