CRISIS PUBLIC RELATIONS
A crisis within an organisation:
- threatens high priorities
- presents minimum time for response
- is unexpected or unanticipated (although there may be an awareness of the possibility prior to it happening)
A crisis can be caused
- by a change in the environment
When facing a crisis, management often reacts in a restrictive manner which may not prove to be in the best interests of the organisation.
Appreciation of any situation is paramount and response issued in a calm and rational way. Over-reacting can do more damage than leaving it alone, which in itself is not the best method.
DEFINING THE CRISIS
It must be asked
- whether it was unexpected or unanticipated
- how was it brought to the organisation's attention
- if it was the result of a calculated risk (it must be noted that a risk is a risk, from which an outcome can never be calculated)
HOW MUCH INFORMATION SHOULD BE GIVEN IN A CRISIS
- authoritative information must be given out as soon as possible; if a positive response is not given quickly, the press will go elsewhere, very often down the employee chain
- the facts must not be distorted
- too much information must not be given (can cause panic) while at the same time too little must not be given (causes disbelief)
- a small group of senior management must be available from which a spokesperson can be drawn
- a member of senior management must be available to be 'on the spot' - specialist training (talking to TV or Radio) must be undertaken if required
- if there is likely to be an incident based on past experience or anticipation, work out a drill of action - who will respond; where (at company HQ or in a local hotel) will the response take place; will there be support or denial material available; will there be video facilities to carefully record the question and answer sessions viz potential misquotes.
- in event of a crisis, ensure media are monitored, in particular recordings of broadcasts (TV and Radio)
- note that press and news agencies tend to get news quickly - an embargo will not work.
- only authoritative spokespeople, even outside office hours - try to encourage an understanding with the media whereby they know who they must contact in the event of a crisis
- if contact is made by the press with a non-authoritative, ensure all staff members are briefed to respond "I don't know but will get someone to speak to you within 10 minutes" - adhere to this, or the press will either misquote or search elsewhere