Crisis Communication

Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

A few notes from the crisis media relations workshop I attended with Dr. Joseph V. Trahan, III, APR, Fellow:

The word crisis in Chinese means dangerous opportunity.

When planning or working through for a crisis, you should

  • Anticipate
  • Coordinate
  • Cooperate
  • Communicate

The three C’s of media relations

  • Control
  • Competence
  • Concern

When it comes to preparing for questions, know the 5x5x5. Be prepared with five points you want to push out, five bad things you expect to reply to and five ugly things you hope you won’t be asked. If you prepare the answers to at least 15 questions before an interview, you’ll be better prepared.

The two most important things for the interview are continuity and consistency of the message. Other important areas of crisis communication include:

  • Security-what can’t be released and why
  • Accuracy-tell what you need to know, just the facts, don’t speculate
  • Propriety-protect family identities, especially until the next of kin has been identified
  • Policy-only disagree with policy behind closed doors, never disagree on the record

Messages need to be:

  • Consistent—stick with one label for the situation
  • Short
  • Jargon-free
  • Clear
  • Honest
  • Simple
  • Includes key points and information

Even though a lot of crises are unexpected, it is important to be proactive. Read They Missed the Whole Story for an interesting take of a spider situation in Texas.

Check out this short video, Corporate Advisory Insight: Crisis Communications, by Thomson Reuters for tips and pointers on handling a crisis.

Here are a few points I learned from Arzu Cevik :

  • Be proactive
    Know how things work within your organization and start building relationships with the media before a crisis hits. Also, have a team of people ready to delegate important tasks to.
  • Know what is going on
    What is actually happening? What can we tell people? How does this affect the public and other stakeholders?
  • Be consistent
    Convey one simple, consistent message and be prepared to answer the tough questions.

I just came across “Ask the Professor: Sorry! An apology as a strategic PR tool” in Public Relations Tactics (12/2007) by John Guiniven, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA.

Here are three key points I picked up from the article:

  • Relationships are important and sometimes an apology is the best way to get it back on track.
  • The legal department might say no. Sometimes you should listen to them, but make sure they can justify why you shouldn’t apologize.
  • Don’t just say, “We were wrong and we’re sorry.” Someone needs to take responsibility, tell them how the problem will be fixed and why it won’t happen again.