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What Not To Do In a Crisis Situation

All organizations are vulnerable to crises and the fallout can be severe (read AIG, Wall Street etc.) so it makes sense that Crisis Management is a big part of traditional PR.

Here are 5 common mistakes made when dealing with a crisis, and why they should be avoided at all costs.

  1. Assuming the truth will set you free. Perception can be just as damaging as reality, sometimes more so.  Even if your client was in the right, don’t rely on those facts to set the record straight.  Chances are the damage will already be done and you’ll need to proactively rebuild your image.
  2. Strictly sticking to ‘the plan’. Albert Einstein said it best: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Most companies/PR agencies have some sort of crisis communication plan put in place, but rigidly sticking to said plan in the face of changing circumstances can hurt your recovery.  Example:  If you haven’t gotten results by sending in written statements to the media in the past, why would you continue to stick with that strategy in your current crisis? Maybe its time to grant a face-to-face interview or explore other sources.
  3. Ignoring the public emotion behind the issue: Take the example of a product recall for safety or health issues.  Of course you initiate the recall and maybe even discontinue the product, but stopping at that is a mistake.  Sure the issue at hand is resolved, but that does nothing to repair the consumer trust your client previously held.
  4. Thinking of the media as ‘the enemy’: It may be natural to form an us vs. them attitude when reeling from a recent crisis, but your PR team better not let it show.  Giving media the cold shoulder or being disrespectful to a reporter will only backfire.
  5. Attempting to let your reputation speak for itself: No matter what the reputation of a firm, any crisis that arises deserves immediate attention and action.  The public (your consumers) are fickle and have short memories; it’s been said a thousand ways but that does not make it less of a fact.  Not to sound all gloom & doom, but no one is immune here – a big enough crisis can take down anyone. Remember Arthur Andersen?

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One Response to “What Not To Do In a Crisis Situation”

  1. smith Says:

    While many studies have identified the importance and benefits of crisis management planning, little research has been conducted about if crisis management planning is more important for managing a crisis than effective leadership and communication skills are. (Schoenberg, 2005). Schoenberg suggests that the development of effective leadership skills will be more beneficial for a company when the crisis hits than an extensive crisis management plan. This is because without effective leadership skills, the plan is basically useless. Therefore, he recommends that companies invest in leadership development that focuses on crisis management and effective communication. These are the skills the company will need to make it through the crisis as a viable organization.

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