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High Risk Defense Test Goes Wrong

Situation overview:

One of the world's largest defense contractors planned a high-profile test of new technology in public airspace over a major population center. The test included a risk of property damage, injuries and fatalities if issues developed. The company was challenged with establishing a process that would guide it through a worse-case scenario.

PROI member Role:

A PROI Worldwide Americas Crisis Group partner developed a comprehensive, proactive strategy for before, during and after the test launch. The strategy included:

  • Developing a local crisis management and communications plan;
  • Preparing for multiple situations using diverse communications approaches;
  • Establishing a local Crisis Management Team and crisis protocols;
  • Facilitating a half-day exercise to test the plan and protocols during a hypothetical crisis;
  • Drafting messages, statements and other communications materials to prepare for several scenarios; and
  • Managing media relations with targeted local, trade, regional and national media.


When the technology did not function as anticipated, the company ended the test prematurely and the plan was immediately put into action. The company credited the extensive preparations surrounding decision-making, response actions and communications protocols for helping them end the test quickly and safely, with no injuries and limited damage.