crisis management

How well are you prepared to protect your reputation in a crisis?

Bad things can and do happen to good organizations. In fact, issues that may be out of public sight can surface and create severe image-damaging situations at any moment in time. To see if you’re prepared, ask yourself the following:

  1. Do you have a crisis management plan?
  2. Have you identified which team members you'll trust internally during a high profile event?
  3. Are the right decision makers and managers ready to act and make decisions quickly?
  4. Do you have a trained spokesperson who can effectively mitigate, manage and present a believable face for your organization when the media calls?
  5. Can you activate the right political and regulatory agencies to either be neutral or come to your support?

If you're concerned about your readiness for such a crisis, consider conducting (or hiring an outside firm to do so) an audit to identify your weak points. A good crisis communication plan can not only help preserve your reputation and avoid lawsuits, but help your company survive the financial setbacks these kinds of crises can create.

Toyota Recall: A Case Study

When things went south for Toyota this year, they responded with massive advertising. My first reaction was "Where are they getting their advice from?" The TV spots are confessionals—"we're not living up to our own standards or to yours"—planting doubt in minds that may not have had a negative opinion of Toyota.

Is there a time to admit fault? Yes, of course. But does this mean positioning a company as one that has disappointed America? I don't think so. Far better to spend those advertising dollars reminding America of all that is good about Toyota (which after all has an excellent track record when it comes to quality) and how they are responding to the problems with their vehicles. While I'm not objecting to them taking a proactive stance, I don't believe there's ever a time to create more bad news than actually exists.


Planning Ahead is Key to Managing a Crisis

Are you prepared for the critical first 24-48 hours of crisis when it happens? A crisis often hits without warning and demands a well-choreographed response to mitigate damages that can be far-reaching to one's business. An effective crisis communication effort can actually reduce or eliminate legal actions and protect your reputation and brand when facing angry customers or media backlash.

In a well-publicized case involving a hospital in California, our senior media consultant worked with the client to manage their messaging during the discovery of an employee who had been euthanizing patients. Throughout and in the aftermath of the crisis, no lawsuits were filed—largely thanks to decisive, consistent and well-managed crisis communications. The hospital maintained its reputation despite the potential for damage.

If you're interested in an audit of your organization's crisis plan, media training, or help creating a plan to handle a crisis, contact me at