1. A Seven-Step Formula For Crisis Management by Bruce
Butterfield, APR, CAE , The Forbes Group
2. Crisis Management and Communications By W. Timothy
Coombs, Ph.D. Institute For Public Relations
What is a Crisis
A crisis is a “non-routine event that risks undesired
visibility that in turn threatens significant damage” like:
(Doorley and Garcia 2007: 328)
How to Deal With a Crisis ?
There is no blue-print of what every company should do
in a crisis
Each crisis might require a different approach basing on
its nature, level of crisis and context.
However, there are basic principles generally followed
1 Get ready Before the Crisis Hits
“Prevention is better than Cure”
stay prepared, plan ahead, put a trained crisis communication team in place,
Pre-assign tasks to the crisis team members
Communication plans should address online media where the crisis usually
You can design scenario statements or key messages ready to be activated
2 What To Do when Crisis Hits
Define the scope of the crisis- Is it local, regional or international ?
Identify affected stakeholders
You may also research for what others have done in such situations
The basic principles to response are: (1) be quick (2) be accurate,
and (3) be consistent.
Step 2: Establish Unified Response
Appoint one person authorized to clear statements to the media and the public
(this should be done prior to crisis)
“Develop and maintain a unified position and supporting messages”
Develop simple, clear and consistent messages
Adapt messages to suite various stakeholders
Appoint one official spokesperson and one alternate
Let everyone know who the spokespersons are and how they can be contacted.
3 Create a central information service
Set up a media headquarters. It can be near or away from the site of crisis.
All organizational staff and volunteers should refer questions to the central
“request for Stakeholders’ cooperation”
Make sure emergency numbers e.g. police. Ambulance, safety organizations are
Have all requests and queries channeled and replied through the information
central to avoid inconsistences.
4 Act Promptly
Gather your facts
Inform the media and cooperate with reporters
Tailor messages to the affected stakeholders and those who can effect messages
Release a simple statement showing “awareness of the situation, action being taken
and willingness to inform media and public of details when they are known.”
Be open and honest in everything
Arrange for a press conference to be addressed by the spokesperson or company
4 Take Action Promptly…….. continued
Use all available channels e.g. mass media, intranets, website (specifically for the
crisis) to disseminate information.
Spokesperson must always be available for interviews, never say no comment
Console victims, show empathy, concern and reassure the affected, offer help
Use facts to dispel rumors
Keep stakeholders updated of new developments
Spokesperson must be comfortable on camera, avoiding nervous habits that people
interpret as deception.
5 Establish Media Response Policy
Schedule regular media briefings to update the reporters & stakeholders
Where suitable arrange for access to disaster area by reporters and other
Do not provide information about victims until families have been notified
“Treat all media equally; no exclusives”
Be consistent- Stick to the facts and limit statements to the immediate problem
“Keep records of all replies (media, reporter name, date, time, respondent,
summary of response, follow up requests)”
Set up media monitoring plan, e.g. google alerts
6 Document everything
Keep records of everything e.g.:
• victims, financial loses,
• dates and time of press conferences
• Any other data related to the crisis
Pic by ww.chinatrade.com
7 Conduct a post-crisis review
Appoint a post crisis assessment team
Ask questions like:
Did the crisis communicating work?
Where did it break down?
What should be added?
What was unnecessary and obsolete?
Who should be on the next crisis management team?
Intergrade lessons learnt into organizations crisis management team
Doorley, J. & Garcia, H.F. (2007). Reputation Management: The Key to Successful
Public Relations and Corporate Communications. New York, NY: Routledge
Butterfield, B. (2001, November). A Seven-Step Formula For Crisis Management.
Coombs, W. T. (October 30, 2007). Crisis Management and Communications.
Retrieved from http://www.instituteforpr.org/topics/crisis-management-and-
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