Immersive Crisis Exercise with Social Media Simulation

Axpo Holding
Crisis Simulation

Swiss energy producer Axpo in the eye of the storm

In the fall of 2021, we collaborated with the Kenel Crisis Leadership Training team to conduct an immersive crisis simulation for Swiss energy producer Axpo. Within the framework of a fictitious scenario, the Axpo team had to master the handling of faulty power plant components, a wave of outrage in social media and fake news about an alleged blackout.

Objectives and requirements:

  • Simulation of social media as an addition to the classic crisis exercise

  • Gaining experience in digital crisis communication

  • Best possible inclusion of the social media team in the crisis exercise

  • Test processes and infrastructures such as the use of key messages

Tabletop exercise plus immersive media simulation – a challenge for the entire crisis team

What happens when (false) information about an energy company circulate online and trigger a corporate crisis? In order to prepare for the potential emergency, the Swiss energy producer Axpo trained this in the context of a crisis simulation. The exercise was conducted by Kenel Crisis Leadership Training in cooperation with the PREVENCY® team. While the experts from Kenel Crisis Leadership Training took care of the implementation of the crisis management exercise on site at Axpo, we supplemented the training with the simulation of social media & co. The goal of the crisis simulation was to subject the entire crisis team in the company as well as processes, structures and strategies to a stress test and to identify optimization approaches for the future.

Experience next-generation crisis exercises.

  • Customized training scenarios

  • Realistic injects and content

  • Simulation of diverse stakeholders

  • Testing of processes, structures and responsibilities

Whistleblower, faked blackout & Co. – a scenario that had it all

With our simulation software, we presented Axpo’s communications team in particular with new challenges: The training scenario started with a fictitious danger to the population caused by faulty components in an Axpo power plant. This was followed by fake news, waves of digital outrage and an alleged hacker attack. An alleged blackout and a simulated mass panic among the population finally ended the day-long crisis training. The crisis simulation made it clear to the crisis team how quickly a dangerous momentum can develop in the digital world and how important it is to prepare well for a potential crisis in order to be able to react quickly in an emergency.

Optimized processes and measures in crisis management and communication

During the crisis simulation, the crisis management team and the crisis communications team in particular were able to gather valuable experience and learn lessons: Good preparation, optimized methods and tools for emergencies, and a well-rehearsed and competent crisis team are needed in order to be able to speak quickly in an emergency, to communicate consistently, and at the same time to maintain an overview of the chaos of topics on the social web. We were also able to take away a valuable learning from the crisis simulation: The collaboration of Kenel Crisis Leadership Training and PREVENCY® enables comprehensive crisis simulations that cover all areas of crisis preparation. The training at Axpo will certainly not be the last joint project.