Scenario planning for Winter 2020: Where to begin?

Comms teams across the country must feel a bit like the first explorers right now. There are bits of the map they know, some other bits they can imagine, and some uncharted parts which are completely unknown. 

2020 has completely ruined all our powers of prediction.

The Loch Ness monster could probably swim up the Tyne and we would all just shrug and get on with it. 

Despite the ever-changing situation, we do need to start thinking about what we can do next. So where to start?

Firstly, stop. Breathe. And appreciate that you have already weathered (and continue to weather) an unseasonal and unsettling storm. 

Now, draw a grid. A bit like this one. 

Blank table to fill in scenarios based on impact and likelihoodOr download a copy.

Next map out what risks your organisation could face this Winter. What is likely? What poses the greatest risk? And don’t be afraid to be overly apocalyptic. 

If I was a 15th-century explorer setting out on my maiden voyage then my grid might look a bit like this. 

Now ask a few members of your team to do the same. You can do this collaboratively with your team on Jamboard if you like. We have an open template that you can copy and use.

Once you identify the recurring themes (e.g. second lockdown/spike of staff sickness/loss of funding) then you can begin shaping your responses to them. 

Ask yourself:

  • How can you best mitigate against those potential challenges?
  • Who would be your priority stakeholders? 
  • Who would your key audiences be and what is the best way of reaching them?
  • What sort of messages would you want to issue and do you have any of these already drafted? 
  • Do you have templates for social media graphics that you can easily adapt and publish? 

Over time you will be able to build up a library of the most-likely scenarios and even develop plans for coping with them. If the Kraken appears off the coast of Blackpool in January then you might not have a specific plan ready for dealing with a ferocious sea monster but you will at least have parts of a plan. You will have a plan for losing part of your crew. Or getting a hole in the side of the boat. Or not having enough food. And these will take you a long way in the unknown.  

How could we help you scenario plan?

Talk to us informally about how we approach this kind of work, ballpark budgets and timescales – or just to help you refine your brief: email [email protected]