Published on March 12, 2014
Crisis Media Relations David Makacha
Articles Reviewed 1. A Seven-Step Formula For Crisis Management by Bruce Butterfield, APR, CAE , The Forbes Group 2. Crisis Management and Communications By W. Timothy Coombs, Ph.D. Institute For Public Relations
What is a Crisis A crisis is a “non-routine event that risks undesired visibility that in turn threatens significant damage” like: Reputation loss Financial loss Lawsuits Public Safety (Doorley and Garcia 2007: 328)
How to Deal With a Crisis ? There is no blue-print of what every company should do in a crisis Each crisis might require a different approach basing on its nature, level of crisis and context. However, there are basic principles generally followed
1 Get ready Before the Crisis Hits “Prevention is better than Cure” stay prepared, plan ahead, put a trained crisis communication team in place, Pre-assign tasks to the crisis team members Communication plans should address online media where the crisis usually breaks first. You can design scenario statements or key messages ready to be activated (Templates)
2 What To Do when Crisis Hits Define the scope of the crisis- Is it local, regional or international ? Identify affected stakeholders You may also research for what others have done in such situations The basic principles to response are: (1) be quick (2) be accurate, and (3) be consistent.
Step 2: Establish Unified Response Appoint one person authorized to clear statements to the media and the public (this should be done prior to crisis) “Develop and maintain a unified position and supporting messages” Develop simple, clear and consistent messages Adapt messages to suite various stakeholders Appoint one official spokesperson and one alternate Let everyone know who the spokespersons are and how they can be contacted.
3 Create a central information service Set up a media headquarters. It can be near or away from the site of crisis. All organizational staff and volunteers should refer questions to the central authorized source. “request for Stakeholders’ cooperation” Make sure emergency numbers e.g. police. Ambulance, safety organizations are available Have all requests and queries channeled and replied through the information central to avoid inconsistences.
4 Act Promptly Gather your facts Inform the media and cooperate with reporters Tailor messages to the affected stakeholders and those who can effect messages Release a simple statement showing “awareness of the situation, action being taken and willingness to inform media and public of details when they are known.” Be open and honest in everything Arrange for a press conference to be addressed by the spokesperson or company executives.
4 Take Action Promptly…….. continued Use all available channels e.g. mass media, intranets, website (specifically for the crisis) to disseminate information. Spokesperson must always be available for interviews, never say no comment Console victims, show empathy, concern and reassure the affected, offer help Use facts to dispel rumors Keep stakeholders updated of new developments Spokesperson must be comfortable on camera, avoiding nervous habits that people interpret as deception.
5 Establish Media Response Policy Schedule regular media briefings to update the reporters & stakeholders Where suitable arrange for access to disaster area by reporters and other officials Do not provide information about victims until families have been notified “Treat all media equally; no exclusives” Be consistent- Stick to the facts and limit statements to the immediate problem “Keep records of all replies (media, reporter name, date, time, respondent, summary of response, follow up requests)” Set up media monitoring plan, e.g. google alerts
6 Document everything Keep records of everything e.g.: • victims, financial loses, • dates and time of press conferences • Any other data related to the crisis Pic by ww.chinatrade.com
7 Conduct a post-crisis review Appoint a post crisis assessment team Ask questions like: Did the crisis communicating work? Where did it break down? What should be added? What was unnecessary and obsolete? Who should be on the next crisis management team? Intergrade lessons learnt into organizations crisis management team
References Doorley, J. & Garcia, H.F. (2007). Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communications. New York, NY: Routledge Butterfield, B. (2001, November). A Seven-Step Formula For Crisis Management. Retrieved from http://www.asaecenter.org/Resources/whitepaperdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=12170 Coombs, W. T. (October 30, 2007). Crisis Management and Communications. Retrieved from http://www.instituteforpr.org/topics/crisis-management-and- communications/
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