Public Relations Communications in the Digital Age


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Public Relations Communications in the Digital Age

  1. 1. 21. Crisis Management Lecture by Dr. Mohammed Ibahrine based on Seitel’s The Practice of Public Relations AL AKHAWAYN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES COMMUNICATIONS STUDIES
  2. 2. Structure of the Lecture <ul><li>1. Issues Management </li></ul><ul><li>2. Implementing Issues Management </li></ul><ul><li>3. Emergence of Risk Communication </li></ul><ul><li>4.Managing in a crisis </li></ul><ul><li>5. Planning a Crisis </li></ul><ul><li>6. Communicating in a Crisis </li></ul><ul><li>7. Engaging the Media in Crisis </li></ul>
  3. 3. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>The term issues management was coined in 1976 by public relations counselor Howard Chase, who defined it this way: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Issues management is the capacity to understand, mobilize, coordinate and direct all strategic and policy planning functions, and all public affairs/public relations skills, toward achievement of one objective: meaningful participation in creation of public policy that affects personal and institutional destiny </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>Issues management is a five-step process that: </li></ul><ul><li>1. identifies issues with which the organization must be concerned </li></ul><ul><li>2. Analyses and delimits each issue with respect to its impact on constituent publics </li></ul><ul><li>3. Displays the various strategic options available to the organization </li></ul><ul><li>4. Implements an action program to communicate the organization's views and to influence perception on the issue </li></ul><ul><li>5. Evaluates its program in terms of reaching organizational goals </li></ul>
  5. 5. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>In specific terms, issues management includes (encompasses) the following elements: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Anticipating emerging issues . The issues management process anticipates issues 18 months to three years away </li></ul>
  6. 6. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>2. Identify issues selectively. A good issues management process will select several specific priority issues with which to deal </li></ul><ul><li>Issues management can focus on the most important issues affecting the organization </li></ul>
  7. 7. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>3. Deal with opportunities and vulnerabilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Most issues, anticipated well in advance, offer both opportunities and vulnerabilities for organizations </li></ul>
  8. 8. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>4. Plan from the outside in. The external environment, not internal strategies, dictates the selection of priority issues </li></ul><ul><li>Issue management is very much driven by external factors </li></ul>
  9. 9. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>5. Bottom-line orientation. Its real purpose should be to defend the organization in light of external factors as well as to enhance the firm’s business by seizing imminent opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>1. Bottom-line: concerned exclusively with costs and profits (bottom-line issues) </li></ul><ul><li>2. Very realistic and pragmatic </li></ul>
  10. 10. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>6. Action timetable. Just as the issues management process must identify emerging issues and set them in order </li></ul><ul><li>It must propose policy, programs and an implementation timetable to deal with those issues </li></ul><ul><li>Action is the key to an effective issues management process </li></ul>
  11. 11. 1. Issues Management <ul><li>7. Dealing from the top. Just as a pubic relations department is powerless without the confidence and respect of top management </li></ul><ul><li>The issues management process must operate with the support of the chief executive </li></ul><ul><li>The chief executive’s personal sanction is critical to the acceptance and conduct of issues management within a firm </li></ul>
  12. 12. 2. Implementing Issues Management <ul><li>In a typical organization, the tactical implementation of issues management tends to consist of four specific job tasks: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Identify issues and trends . Issues identification can be accomplished through traditional research techniques as well as through more informal methods </li></ul><ul><li>One way to keep informed about what is being said about a company, industry, or issue is to be aware of issues from all perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Such awareness of the “enemy” prevents you from being blindsided </li></ul>
  13. 13. 2. Implementing Issues Management <ul><li>2. Evaluating issue impact and setting priorities. </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation and analysis may be handled by issues committees within an organization </li></ul><ul><li>Committees can set priorities for issues management action </li></ul>
  14. 14. 2. Implementing Issues Management <ul><li>3. Establishing a company position. </li></ul><ul><li>Establishing a position can be a formal process </li></ul>
  15. 15. 2. Implementing Issues Management <ul><li>4. Designing company action response to achieve results. </li></ul><ul><li>The best-organized companies for issues management orchestrate integrated responses to achieve results </li></ul>
  16. 16. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>The 1990 saw the emergence of “risk communication” as an outgrowth of issues management </li></ul>
  17. 17. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>Risk communication began as process of taking scientific data related to health and environment hazards and presenting them to a lay audience in a manner that is both understandable and meaningful </li></ul>
  18. 18. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>Risk communication deals with a high level of emotion </li></ul><ul><li>Occasionally, intense emotion flows from a lack of knowledge and understanding about science that underlies societal risk </li></ul>
  19. 19. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>Seven steps are helpful in planning a risk communication program </li></ul><ul><li>1. Recognize risk communication as part of a larger risk management program </li></ul><ul><li>and understand that the whole program is based on politics, power, and controversial issues </li></ul>
  20. 20. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>2. Encourage management to join the “communication loop ” and help train them to deal with the news media </li></ul><ul><li>You know about it, because you are in the information/communication loop </li></ul>
  21. 21. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>3. Develop credible outside experts to act as news sources for journalists </li></ul>
  22. 22. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>4. Become an in-house/insider expert in your own area of risk to enhance your credibility with journalists </li></ul>
  23. 23. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>5. Approach the news media with solid facts and figures before they approach you </li></ul><ul><li>Verify the veracity of your data, adhere to facts </li></ul>
  24. 24. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>6. Research perceptions of your organization by the media and other publics to gauge/gage credibility </li></ul><ul><li>And help determine if your message will be believable </li></ul><ul><li>The idea of public opinion </li></ul>
  25. 25. 3. Emergence of Risk Communication <ul><li>7. Understand your target audiences and how the news media can help you communicate effectively </li></ul><ul><li>Remember </li></ul><ul><li>Like in any other area of public relations communications: </li></ul><ul><li>DEEDS not words are what count in communicating risk </li></ul>
  26. 26. 4. Managing in a crisis <ul><li>The most significant test for any organization comes when it is hit by a major accident or disaster: that is a crisis </li></ul><ul><li>What is a crisis? </li></ul><ul><li>According to Harvard Business Review </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ A crisis is a situation that has reached a critical phase for which dramatic and extraordinary intervention is necessary to avoid or repair major damage” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 27. 4. Managing in a crisis <ul><li>How an organization handles itself in the midst of a crisis may influence how it is perceived for years to come </li></ul><ul><li>When a crisis strikes, seven instant warning signs invariably appear: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1. Surprise. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2. Insufficient information. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3. Escalating Events. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>4. Loss of control. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>5. Increased outside scrutiny </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>6. Siege mentality </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>7. Panic. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  28. 28. 5. Planning a Crisis <ul><li>One irrefutable key in crisis management is being prepared </li></ul><ul><li>Reporters consider themselves the “guardians of the public trust” and therefore may be quick to point fingers and ascribe blame in a crisis </li></ul><ul><li>Heightened preparedness is always in order, with four planning issues paramount: </li></ul>
  29. 29. 5. Planning a Crisis <ul><li>1. For each potentially impacted audience, define the risk. </li></ul><ul><li>The risk must be understood before framing crisis communication </li></ul>
  30. 30. 5. Planning a Crisis <ul><li>2. For each risk defined, describe the actions that mitigate the risk </li></ul><ul><li>If you do a credible job in defining the risk, </li></ul><ul><li>the public will more closely believe in your solutions </li></ul>
  31. 31. 5. Planning a Crisis <ul><li>3. Identify the cause of the risk. If the public believes you know what went wrong, </li></ul><ul><li>they are more likely to accept that you will quickly remedy the problem </li></ul><ul><li>If the organization helps identify the cause of the problem, </li></ul><ul><li>the coverage of the crisis is likely to be more balanced </li></ul>
  32. 32. 5. Planning a Crisis <ul><li>4. Demonstrate responsible management action. </li></ul><ul><li>Essential to the planning phase is to appear to be in control of the situation </li></ul><ul><li>Defining an issue means both having a clear sense internally of what the focus of communications should be </li></ul><ul><li>And effectively moving that focus out into the marketplace to reach key constituents </li></ul>
  33. 33. 5. Planning a Crisis <ul><li>Simple but appropriate watchwords/passwords for any crisis plan are the following </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be prepared </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be Available </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be Credible </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  34. 34. 6. Communicating in a Crisis <ul><li>The key communications principle in dealing with a crisis is not to clam up when disasters strikes </li></ul><ul><li>Public relations advice takes a different track </li></ul><ul><li>The most effective crisis communicators are those who provide prompt, frank, and full information to the media in the eye of the storm </li></ul><ul><li>In saying nothing, an organization is perceived as already having made a decision </li></ul>
  35. 35. 6. Communicating in a Crisis <ul><li>The cardinal rule for communications during a crisis to be: </li></ul><ul><li>TELL IT ALL AND TELL IT FAST </li></ul>
  36. 36. 6. Communicating in a Crisis <ul><li>When information gets out quickly, </li></ul><ul><li>Rumors are stopped and nerves are calmed </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1. Terminate the crisis quickly </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2. Limit the damage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3. Restore credibility </li></ul></ul></ul>
  37. 37. 6. Communicating in a Crisis <ul><li>The quickest way to end the agony </li></ul><ul><li>And begin to build back credibility </li></ul><ul><li>Is to communicate through the media </li></ul>
  38. 38. 7. Engaging the Media in Crisis <ul><li>Handling the media is the most critical element in crisis </li></ul><ul><li>Treating the media as “friendly adversaries” makes great sense </li></ul>
  39. 39. 7. Engaging the Media in Crisis <ul><li>So dealing with the media in crisis demands certain “battlefield among them: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Set up media headquarters. Organizations in crisis must immediately establish a media headquarters through which all authorized communication must flow </li></ul>
  40. 40. 7. Engaging the Media in Crisis <ul><li>2. Establish media rules. In a crisis the media are sneaky (furtive) </li></ul><ul><li>Their goal is to unearth any salient/noticeable or salacious/lascivious element that will advance the story line of the crisis </li></ul><ul><li>They are operating at cross-purposes with the organization, which is trying to put the crisis behind it </li></ul>
  41. 41. 7. Engaging the Media in Crisis <ul><li>3. Media live for the “box score” crisis is about number </li></ul><ul><li>An organization is crisis must be ready to provide enough numbers to “feed the best” </li></ul>
  42. 42. 7. Engaging the Media in Crisis <ul><li>4. Do not speculate. If you do not know the numbers, do pretend you do </li></ul><ul><li>Speculation is a suicidal in crisis </li></ul>
  43. 43. 7. Engaging the Media in Crisis <ul><li>5. Feed the beast. The media in crisis are insatiable </li></ul><ul><li>The media never sleep </li></ul><ul><li>Nature abhors vacuum, goes the old saying </li></ul><ul><li>In crisis any vacuum will be filled by your enemies </li></ul><ul><li>Smart organizations in crisis will strive to keep the media occupied </li></ul>
  44. 44. 7. Engaging the Media in Crisis <ul><li>7. Speed triumphs. In crisis, the media mantra is speed first, accuracy second </li></ul><ul><li>Cable Rules. Cable TV is 21st century phenomenon: CNN and Fox News </li></ul>
  45. 45. 7. Engaging the Media in Crisis <ul><li>The following principles apply: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Speak first and often </li></ul><ul><li>2. Do not speculate </li></ul><ul><li>3. Go off the record at your own peril </li></ul><ul><li>4. Stay with the facts </li></ul><ul><li>5. Be open and concerned, not defensive </li></ul><ul><li>6. Make your point and repeat it </li></ul><ul><li>7. Do not wage war with the media </li></ul><ul><li>8. Establish yourself as the most authoritative source </li></ul><ul><li>9. Stay calm and be truthful and cooperative </li></ul><ul><li>10. Never lie </li></ul>