Case Study: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

When RBG Kew approached Media First to help them plan for such an eventuality, they knew that the only way to effectively measure and critique their response would be to create a fictional, but realistic crisis scenario that would test the top team’s cohesion, responsiveness and decision making.

An orderly Kew

The peaceful London oasis of the world famous Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew is perhaps one of the last places where you’d expect to have to deal with a crisis.

However, with almost 2million visitors passing through the Gardens each year, the Executive team at Kew know that if something was to go wrong they would need to be ready to take swift and decisive action to manage the safety of their visitors and staff, and protect their hard earned reputation.

With their vast experience in bringing crisis scenarios to life and their expertise in advising, assessing and managing effective communications response, Media First were chosen to help create a meaningful and valuable crisis exercise and workshop.

— Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

After working closely with the comms team to develop the basis of a realistic scenario, Media First then used their team of working journalists to create complementary broadcast and print media coverage and social media activity to help frame each section of the fictional scenario and to help move the crisis through its likely course.

Using the media coverage as a barometer of public opinion and then courtesy of carefully timed and individualised scenario ‘injects’, each member of the Executive Board would be put under the pressure of latest developments. They would need to react accordingly while coordinating a joined up and sensible response with the rest of the Executive team and their individual areas of responsibility.

As the pressure of the fictional situation increased, the on-site Media First journalist team were agile enough to react to developments created on the day by the Executive team’s response. As events unfolded the press team in particular would need to manage live enquiries and demands for further comment and statements.

At the same time Media First’s experienced management and leadership consultants were able to observe the way the Executive team managed each new scenario development – how they worked together, the flow of information across the group, the assumption of various roles and the overall management of the scenario.

Media First were then able to provide constructive comments and recommendations, both as part of a post session de-brief and then later in a detailed written report.

We were pleased with the way Media First worked with us to create a scenario which challenged us on a number of different levels. The fast-paced nature of the scenario gave us insight into how we work as a team under pressure, and the way that Media First’s journalists responded in real-time to our response made if feel as genuine as possible and was useful for us as we plan for the future.

— Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

A fast and furious half day session, covering a 5-day crisis scenario demanded meticulous planning, nimble thinking and realistic responses. Both Media First and the team at RBG Kew rose to the challenge with the exercise providing a few surprises and some really valuable learning. As a result, the Executive Team at Kew have increased confidence and understanding of their role within a crisis, and are continuing to evolve their policies and procedures based on what they learned during the training.