Dealing with a crisis

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Information about Dealing with a crisis

Published on March 4, 2014

Author: CharityComms



Tamara Bennett and Kate Brennan, British Heart Foundation
PR in the digital age conference







FAILING TO PLAN IS… 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Crisis communications team Briefs held by Senior Media Officers Watching brief Risk mapping Response toolkit Digital essential Regular updates to stakeholders Disaster recovery plan What if?


WHEN THE S*** HITS THE FAN… Golden Rules 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Get key staff in a room Decide responses Tailor to the audience Contact stakeholders Prepare Q and As Expect the unexpected To-do list Monitor Update Monitor again DON’T PANIC!

REVIEWING THE SITUATION… THE DAILY UPDATE 1. Journalist calls 2. Social media responses 3. Emails received 4. Postal communications 5. Impact on fundraising 6. Learn and adapt 7. Second guess senior management 8. Trust your instinct 9. Evaluate and summarise 10. Don’t be afraid to change approach



SOCIAL VS PRESS “We’ve funded over 1,000 life-saving research projects over the past five years, under 0.3 per cent involved dogs. This research is undertaken because heart rhythm in dogs is controlled in a very similar way to ours. This research is vital in helping us understand and treat dangerous heart rhythm problems – known as arrhythmias – where the heart is beating too fast or too slow. “Arrhythmias currently affect over a million people each year in the UK and can make people feel extremely unwell and in some cases cause sudden death. Scientists hope their findings will help improve and save the lives of heart patients in the future. “We always look for ways to reduce the use of animals in research. This is not an issue we take lightly.” “The BHF is dedicated to saving lives through better treatments and cures for heart conditions. We fund vital research using cells grown in the laboratory, computer models, human volunteers and work involving animals when that is necessary. “Every application for research funding goes through a rigorous independent review procedure and of the many hundreds of life-saving research projects we’ve funded over the last five years, 0.3 per cent have involved dogs. “We proactively seek the reduction of animal use, and the replacement of animals with other research methods where possible. We require researchers to apply the highest standards to animal welfare. “BHF research has contributed to life-saving medical advances for heart patients over the past half century. But there is still so much work to be done and, for the foreseeable future, that will involve using animals in research.”



THE RULES… ACCORDING TO CAMPBELL 1.Know the difference between a genuine crisis and a media driven frenzy. The former are rare, the latter common. 2. Once you have decided it is a crisis situation, operate the OST rule. Set clear Objectives. Define the Strategy. Only then think about Tactics. 3. Never lose sight of the big picture. 4. Centralise. 5. If the crisis needs new policy, structures or personnel to manage it, put them in place quickly.

THE RULES: PART TWO 6. If it is a crisis playing out across the media, rebut with speed and aggression. 7. Decide the single figure to whom people will most look for leadership. Usually the person at the top but… 8. Horses for courses. Understand that sometimes the top person may be a dreadful communicator if not used to it . 9. Agree basic messages and never tire of saying them. 10. Organise every part of every day for the tactical implementation of strategy.

THE RULES: PART THREE 11. Organise your communications as far as they need to go. Take account of possible different audiences. 12. Put extra effort into the big moments. 13. Ensure proper internal comms. Don’t forget your own people may get most messages through media. Make sure they hear from you first. 14. Remember it will end. 15. Throughout the crisis, have someone working on re-entry to normal strategy once the crisis is over


DISCUSSION  What kind of crisis comms have you dealt with recently?  How prepared are you?  Are your digital channels ready?

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