6 Principles of Successful Crisis Management

    Review of recent luncheon presentation by Amy Slav, AMA Michiana Past President

    During a crisis, things can go crazy.  The sooner you derail the process, the better opportunity you have to influence how your brand reacts and is perceived.  Do you have a crisis management plan? Think of a crisis as a test of corporate character, would you pass? 

    It’s okay if you don't have all the answers, I’ve got advice from the pros to share.

    I recently attended an AMA Michiana luncheon on Crisis Management presented by Karen Doyne, Managing Director and Leader of U.S. Crisis Practice at Curson-Marsteller and PRNews 2015 Crisis Manager of the Year. During her presentation, Karen talked about 6 Principles of Successful Crisis Management that can help your organization become “crisis-ready”.

    You’re in the middle of a crisis – now what?

    Do the right thing. The public doesn't demand perfection but they do expect integrity. Try to see through the eyes of your stakeholders and customers.

    Put your money where your mouth is.  Crisis is managed by communication but resolved by action.  What do you need to do to repair the breach of confidence?  Can you do more or can you communicate or react faster?  Don't expect recognition for doing the right thing.

    Be accountable.  Take appropriate "ownership".  This is different than taking the blame or liability, people need to know someone will make things right.  Apologies are useful, but not a panacea.

    Embrace transparency - before it's forced on you by others.  You should assume all information will become public.  If you can't say it, explain why not.  Focus on making strategic choices like release information proactively and be prepared to respond effectively.  Controlling information is NOT a strategy.  Your customers and stakeholders want to hear it from you first, not on the news.  Once a crisis has gone public, don’t wait to respond – post your statement.

    Communicate early and often.  Fill the void before others do. The initial message should show concern, control and communication. 

    •   Concern - we're on it, we care.
    •   Control - we're on it and here is what we know.
    •   Communication - We will keep you informed. 


    Be prepared.  A crisis can happen without any warning.  Make sure your team is prepared and has a plan of action.  Keep your plan up-to-date and test it internally against real-world scenarios.  Make sure you offer on-going crisis training for key staff from “gatekeepers” to spokespersons.  Remember, customers and stakeholders don’t expect perfection, but they do expect integrity and proper communication.


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