Crisis Communications is not just about what to do when a crisis strikes but how to identify potential crises and how and what to do to reduce the chances of a crisis happening in the first place.
In resolving issues for companies, we've found that there are four key questions that require consideration. These are;
1. What is the major problem the company is facing?
2. Is there a regulatory issue affecting the profitability of the company?
3. How are you currently communicating about this issue?
4. What is the biggest 'time-bomb' in the company?
When a crisis hits, it's a very stressful time. But, it is worth remembering the following.
Having worked on reputation management and crisis communications with many different people over the years, I've found that despite the often challenging issues, there's usually one constant - no one actually cares. For the person involved and impacted by an issue, it's deeply personal, upsetting, and highly stressful. If media are involved there's the dread that 'everyone' will know about the problem and your involvement. While PR efforts seeks to allay 'stakeholder' views, they don't address the personal impact a crisis can have on an individual. This is even more so when family and so-called friends pass an ill-informed comment, or they find these same people have quietly unfollowed them on Facebook. It all hurts.
But after twenty years of working in this field, and despite the so-called negative noise surrounding an issue, people generally are only interested in the 'what's in it for me'. If there is an interest, it's only fleeting. They quickly move on. It's a tough lesson to learn.