CCNE-Expert Survey – International Crisis Communication: Strongly increasing crisis potential in the healthcare sector / Cross-border crisis hardly trained by companies

Munich August 2020. The need for crisis communication will increase significantly over the next five years, particularly in the healthcare and financial sector. This is the result of an expert survey by the Crisis Communications Network Europe (CCNE), in which fifteen crisis consultants from all nine CCNE member countries participated in July 2020. Around three-quarters of the respondents believe that the health sector will show the greatest potential for crisis in the following years, followed by the financial sector.

“The corona crisis has led to the fact that in almost all countries the question of the quality of the health care system has been raised anew and deficits have been revealed – from the financing of hospitals and the quality of treatment to the stockpiling of medicines”, says CCNE spokesman Matthias Glötzner. “Public attention will continue to be focused on all players in the healthcare sector for a long time to come. This is usually accompanied by a particular susceptibility to crisis.” The food and agricultural industry is in third place.

Strongly increasing importance of employees expected for the course of the crises
When asked about the actors that influence the dynamic of crises in the coming years, almost three quarters of the consultants assume that the impact of individual employees will raise. While individual consumers are also becoming more relevant to crisis dynamics according to this survey, CCNE members do not expect the influence of NGOs to diminish or increase significantly. The consultants see the most important reason for these high figures as being that digitization not only makes each individual a potential multiplier, but that individuals are also becoming increasingly aware of their importance in the crisis.

“In addition, fake news campaigns in the future will not only be political but will be targeted at companies. This means that individuals can trigger crises without the company causing a concrete event or real misconduct,” says Glötzner. “This is particularly easy to do in a highly fragmented society, as it is currently the case in all European countries.” CCNE members also agree that internal communication receives too little attention during a crisis and must be given top priority.

Issue monitoring and crisis evaluation are most used prevention instruments
Although it is undisputed that digitization is still on the advance, many of the companies consulted in crisis management have not yet created the appropriate conditions. More than half of the advised companies do not use a digital crisis App but rely on the classic crisis handbook. This feature is available in one of two companies and the same applies to the field of issue monitoring. Furthermore, the survey reveals a need for improvement in the preparation for international crises. Only one fifth of the survey participants stated that the companies they advise are already sufficiently prepared for cross-border crises. The willingness to train such scenarios and set up prevention processes is less developed in companies than it should be.

The greatest challenges in cross-border crises are cultural and legal differences as well as language barriers. “In the network we keep observing that the industries which are particularly susceptible to crises differ in every country. For example, the food industry in Great Britain and the Netherlands is far from receiving as much critical attention as is the case in Germany,” says Glötzner. “And it is precisely here – in the awareness of cultural and media differences – that the CCNE comes into play. With the help of this network, we can bridge language and cultural barriers and cover complex international crisis mandates better than ever before via our partners”.

About the survey:
In an online survey, the consultations of all nine member countries were questioned on crisis communication. They represent around 500 consultancy clients. A total of 15 experts in crisis communication took part in the survey. The surveys took place in the period from 17 June to 06 July 2020.

About the network:
The CCNE is an association of owner-managed, European agencies with proven expertise in crisis prevention and communication. The members aim to provide their clients with even better support in cross-border crises. Further information is available at