BY JOSH CORMAN
ALWAYS BE PREPARED : MELISSA AGNES BRINGS CRISIS READINESS TO ISPA
CRISIS . IT ’ S A WORD THAT NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR used to describe the situation they find themselves in , and yet for more than two years , it ’ s a word we have heard over and over with reference to the everyday realities of the COVID-19 pandemic , especially for those in the spa , hospitality and fitness industries . However , some organizations — those that had established what crisis planning and management expert Melissa Agnes calls a “ crisis-ready culture ”— responded more effectively than others to the pandemic ’ s impact .
How could those organizations have been prepared for something as unprecedented in contemporary society as a global pandemic ? What steps might others take to better prepare themselves for future crises ? These are the kinds of questions Agnes answers in a professional capacity for organizations ranging from top hospitality brands to leading pharmaceutical companies . Ahead of her Knowledge Builder Session on building crisis-ready cultures , Pulse spoke with Agnes to learn more about what the last two years has taught us about planning for and responding to trials of all kinds .
Pulse : How did your career evolve to the point where crisis planning and management was something you knew you could help others do more effectively ? MELISSA AGNES : It happened very organically . I ’ ve been an entrepreneur since I was 21 , and about 13 years
ago , I started looking at the way the world was evolving with technology and social media and the real-time news cycle when my mind went , “ There ’ s so much risk involved with this . Everybody ’ s getting on the social media bandwagon at this point , but nobody ’ s talking about the risks .” It was like this whole new awakening .
That sent me off onto this path of learning about crisis management , which I didn ’ t know anything about at the time , and while I was learning about it , I realized nobody was talking about these issues . I was about a year in at that point , devouring everything on the subject and learning about it . Then , we had a client who had just launched their website , and their VP called me really early one morning in a panic . He goes ,“ Our president is on the phone with a prospective investor , and the media is reporting on the radio that one of our buildings is about to explode . It ’ s not true , but all of our investors are calling in , and apparently the rumor started on Twitter — we have no idea what Twitter is , but we heard it ’ s a digital thing . Because you just launched our website , we ’ re hoping you can help .”
20 PULSE • MAY / JUNE 2022