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Developing Polpeo’s Proprietary Crisis Simulation Tool

Polpeo logo

Founded with the goal of helping brands learn how to manage the risk of reputational damage on social media, Polpeo is a crisis simulation provider which teaches brands to manage their responses to crises effectively.

Social media is often ranked to the top concern when it comes to reputational risk and many brands are aware of the impact that a single issue can cause, with many spiralling into a full crisis.

Global events from Covid to the war in Ukraine have shown us how quickly misinformation spreads online, if unchecked.

Timing is critical in responding to a crisis but how you respond can make or break your brand’s reputation.

A graphic of a MacBook Air running the Perspective software, showing a document titled The Public Sector Transfer Club.

The Birth of Polpeo

In 2011, Polpeo’s founders noticed a number of high-profile cases in which a brand’s public response to a crisis were negatively affecting their reputation.

They realised that as social media channels continued to evolve and present new opportunities for brands, those managing the brands’ presence needed help and guidance to make sure they knew how to expertly handle and protect their reputation in the event of a crisis. They needed practical experience of managing a crisis, before it happened.

Technologies: React and AWS
Duration: 6 months
Team: 2 devs, 1 UX, 1 QA
Hosted: AWS

From there the idea of Polpeo was formed. The challenge, however, was being able to deliver interactive and realistic crisis communications training in a truly insightful and educative environment. Previously, crisis training had been quite theoretical and desktop-based and it had been difficult to visualise the way in which a crisis may play out.

Polpeo’s vision was to create a true-to-life digital simulation that allowed the delivery of realistic, fictional social crisis scenarios that could immerse their clients in an engaging and ‘real-life’ situation. By doing so brand teams could develop their crisis communications skills in a private and safe environment, learning powerful lessons and gaining invaluable insights that would help protect their brand in the real world.

Polpeo chose Isotoma to help them create their proprietary social media simulation platform as we were able to deliver a uniquely tailored platform to meet their needs.

The team at Isotoma has been amazing . . . I can’t recommend Isotoma highly enough.

Delivering this project has been a significant undertaking. From the outset the software had to be able to accurately mimic popular social media channels, blogs, forums and news platforms in their appearance and functionality. This meant building these platforms from the ground up to provide as close to a life-like simulation as possible. It also needed to mimic the state of a crisis as closely as possible, with inbound emails, the ability to create and share crisis plans and strategies, and respond to public queries over multiple channels.

Polpeo had to be able to easily tailor the solution to the needs of each of their clients so flexibility and scalability were a must. It also had to provide a seamless and easy-to-use experience in which the technology melted away and allowed participants to concentrate solely on the scenario they were taking part in. Most importantly the solution had to be agile enough to allow for further development and growth; to truly provide a realistic experience we had to ensure we could keep up with real-world changes in social media usage.

To deliver this we developed the tool in a cloud-based environment using our extensive experience of React and AWS. Now in its third and most advanced iteration, the browser-based solution is more flexible and scalable than ever before, allowing an unlimited number of users to participate in each simulation. Its infrastructure also means the software is able to react to users and external changes more quickly, with a lower use of resources.

A graphic of a MacBook Air running the Perspective software, showing a document titled The Public Sector Transfer Club.

Driving Crisis Preparedness

Since the inception of Polpeo’s proprietary solution, the company has successfully worked with some of the biggest brands on the internet. They have delivered live-action training sessions of a multitude of crises, aided by a bespoke technology platform and pre-planned content delivered by community and social media managers with unparalleled experience of managing real-life scenarios.

The proprietary software has been very well received by participants. Commenting on Polpeo’s solution (on the Polpeo website), Andrea Lisher, Head of PR at MS Society, said:

We used Polpeo to deliver a crisis simulation for our directors — they all said they found it challenging and it really helped them to reflect on our crisis preparedness. The crisis tool Polpeo has developed was absolutely brilliant and totally made the simulation. It was so realistic and meant our directors were having to consider how the crisis was playing out on all our channels, as they would do in an actual crisis. The team was a real pleasure to work with.

Andrea Lisher, Head of PR at MS Society

Kate Hartley, co-founder of Polpeo, said:

The feedback we have consistently from our clients has been that Polpeo is the closest thing possible to dealing with a real crisis. The team at Isotoma has been amazing - they’re so quick to understand what we want to achieve, they challenge us (in a good way!) and always come up with suggestions for the best way to get the outcome we want. I can’t recommend Isotoma highly enough.

Kate Hartley, Co-founder of Polpeo

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