Being prepared in a crisis is the key

Being prepared in a crisis is the key

Communication | Judette Coward-Puglisi

April 11, 2008

Caption:

This press conference was put together in two hours by Mango Media Caribbean. It was a high pressure moment for our client.

The recent hurricane of activities that threatened to flatten my client’s corporate reputation forced me to rethink the strategies that would allow me to handle the three week media crisis.

Looking back I would marry both the legal and the Public relations issues earlier, and I would have paid for placements of position statements earlier, once I identified that the media, in its typical role of being defenders of the "underdogs”, would take an anti-corporate stance. Thus, impacting its objectivity.

Still my client gave us top marks only because we were able to communicate our position effectively, 78% of our statements were published, and our response was swift and pointed. I believe our effectiveness was due to the fact that we were prepared. And you should be too, especially if you communicate in a volatile, union-driven or public sector environment

Here are some tips:

1. Collect data and keep it readily available: Find out which reporter is covering your industry and compile a database. Keep the data current. Our team has a wallet card sized crisis card with all the reporters’ numbers and email addresses. In a crisis it’s what we use for immediate referencing.

2) Keep your crisis room prepared with a working telephone, fax, and white board. Have the cell numbers of reporters and all stakeholders posted clearly as well as corporate facts and information. Our client, Petro Canada, has one of the best crisis rooms I’ve seen and one of their best practises is to provide continuously updated laminated 8×11 info cards to all members of the crisis team so that corporate information can be communicated quickly.

3) Keep all your crisis press releases and what has been reported about your company in one place. It will help you to stay on message or prepare you more readily just in case you have to divert from the stated position.

How are you prepared for a crisis?