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March 1, 2017
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May 1, 2017

Crisis what crisis?

We strive to create a good reputation for our businesses. Yet sadly, reputation can be lost far, FAR easier than won. You’ve only got to think about Toyota, BP, Wayne Rooney… to realise that not all publicity is good publicity.

So, before your company be faced with an ‘incident’, here are 15 things to think about. Just in case…

  • Anticipate just what the crisis moments in your own business might be. Fraudulent activity? Explosion on site? Job losses? Product recall? Loss of life?
  • Think through the various scenarios. On a communications front, how will you will respond? chains of communication? who to notify? establishing press office. Just thinking this through NOW is one thing less to when the fur starts to fly. Make notes, gather key mobile numbers/email addresses, etc. Establish who the stakeholders are.
  • Prepare background FAQs and holding statements. A holding statement is just that – it is a very short account of what you know, which is ‘on hold’ until you are asked to provide information. And importantly, it’s only ever issued to those asking the question.
  • Find out the facts of the incident. The who, what, why, when, where, how.
  • NEVER speculate. NEVER lie
  • Remember the classic crisis PR guidance – Tell it all; tell it truthfully; tell it now.
  • Ensure that all media enquiries are directed to one place – so you can control the company message as far as possible. Aim to have one expert source of information.
  • Keep a record of which journalists have contacted you about the incident, and what you said to them. (don’t forget you may be able to build a working relationship with them after the crisis)
  • Ask when a journalists’ copy deadlines are, so you know what timescale they’re working to.
  • If you do not know the answer to a media question, say so. Don’t improvise or speculate.
  • Wherever possible, never say ‘no comment’. People reach their own conclusions from that. Even if you do not know the details, just say exactly that – ‘we are currently making our investigations into …’ or whatever.
  • Apologise. Whilst you don’t want to jeopardise your legal position, saying you regret what’s happened, and that you’ll be doing all in your power to prevent it happening again, is what we want to hear from a responsible company.
  • Emailed responses are best, as they can’t be misconstrued, and you have a record of what went to whom, and when.
  • If anyone is quoted, or needs to field broadcast responses, it should be a senior person within the company, preferably MD or CEO. It looks unprofessional to have your PR manager in front of the camera/microphone
  • Incidents may happen from time to time. All you can do is to be prepared, and deal with them humanly, honestly and with integrity.

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