ZURICH--A number of experienced agency veterans have joined forces to launch a new service aimed at helping companies deal with the dramatic changes in crisis management.

The Crisis Protection Network is led by Zurich-based consultants Marion Starck and Patrick Schurmann, and also features former Burson-Marsteller UK CEO Jonathan Jordan in the UK. Other partners include ex-Burson France deputy CEO Said Aissaoui in Paris; former Grayling Western Europe MD Alfred Autischer (Austria); and, Stephane Koch, Peter Schurmann and Christine Visinand (all Switzerland).

Starck, a crisis expert who previously headed B-M and Trimedia before founding Starck Public Relations, pointed out that crisis communications has had to make significant changes to deal with the changes brought about by social media and globalisation.

“The whole art of crisis management has become so fast and so immediate that it almost makes it impossible to manage a crisis,” explained Starck. “The kickoff to starting this network was noticing that crisis management has changed so much in recent years that the methodology has to change. Looking at some of the worst crises we have seen in recent years illustrates the need for that.”

Jordan, who also heads his own firm Sermelo in London, noted that the “rules of the game are changing”, using the example of disgruntled staff starting a blog or a Facebook page.

“There is a perfect storm of risks and what we’ve also found is people who go before the leadership of large organisations need to have a high degree of experience and we think that is something we can bring,” he said.

The typical corporate approach of preparing a crisis handbook, added Koch, is outdated. “The handbook has to be rewritten every day,” he explained. “It has to be adapted every day to the way people react to social networks.”

“It moves from being a published manual to a realtime set of methodologies and agreed responses with a recognition that there are going to be known unknowns as part of that mix,” added Jordan.

The hub for each assignment will be determined according to the specific crisis requirement and the consultant elected to take the lead. The network primarily specialises in crisis preparedness, and has developed a “modular” system to help clients handle emerging threats.

The network is also expecting to expand its membership to include consultants in Brussels, Madrid, Milan and New York.