A crisis is an event or series
of events which can severely
damage the reputation of an
organisation. It can interrupt
normal workflow and threaten
the organisation’s very
Crisis communications is a
responsible programme to
minimize damage to a
company’s reputation through
active engagement and
employees, stakeholders, the
public and the media
Crisis communications re-actions
Decline to comment
Assure – show you
care, calm fears
Apologize (if you
have to) and be
ACT – fix it
Deny or lie
Defensive – take it
Deflect or downplay
– taichi, blame
Best pro-active practices:
Formulate a crisis communications plan
Role-play crisis scenarios
Update crisis plans regularly
Train staff on crisis communications
Meet and cultivate the media
Engage and connect with online
• Use online tracking tools to monitor and
flag possible crisis situations
Opportunities in a crisis:
What the media can do for you
• Help spread information to the public quickly
Tell your side of the story, show you care
Repudiate and get ahead of the rumour mill
Reassure or calm the public
Reinforce alerts, warnings, cautions
• Disseminate appeals for
– witnesses, feedback or volunteers
• Educate the public on the issue
– Gain empathy for your cause
– Show you are good corporate citizen with long term
interest in the country
Tools for responding to
media in a crisis
Q & A or F.A.Q.
Memo or letter
• Light up “dark website”
with hourly/daily updates
• Video on YouTube
• Social network update:
Facebook or Twitter
• Set up a blog or forum
(*be prepared to monitor)
• Crowd-sourced survivor
• 5-digit SMS hotline 24
Holding statement: eg. Fire
• Provides the media with an initial statement of
facts that can be used immediately when crisis
• Answer the four Ws: Who, What, When, Where.
Explain WHAT the incident is. Identify WHO is
involved, tell WHERE and WHEN the incident
occurred, explain WHAT action is being taken to
respond to the incident.
• Do not speculate on the How, How Much or Why
if you do not know the answer yet. When in
doubt leave out.
• DO NOT disclose any names of dead or injured
until next-of-kin is informed. (Reporters may get
names from police or hospital. When you are ready to
release names, appeal to media to respect the privacy of
family and relatives in their time of bereavement.)
Example: Holding statement
At approximately 9am today, Jan 30, 2014, a fire
occurred at the bank at _____________.
The local police and fire services were
immediately alerted and contained the situation.
Our immediate concerns are for the safety and
well-being of our employees and the public and
to minimize the impact to the surrounding area.
We will keep you updated as more details
become available. (Please check our
website/blog or call the hotline_____________)
• State whether fire is put out, people evacuated and
surrounding community is secure.
• Show empathy, regret and appropriate concern for
victims, their families and those affected. State that
the safety and security of your customers and
employees is always your highest priority.
• Name the agencies you are working with – eg.
police, hospital, local council, fire department,
hazmat, search and rescue, enforcement – who
are responding to this incident. State whether
investigations and related follow-up activities are
What is a key message?
• A key message is a short and
succinct sentence to communicate a
vital piece of information that you
wish to share with the media
• It is the most important thing you
want the media to remember and
possibly use in a story
• Give no more than three messages
Tip: Have a trigger word to remember it by.
Run it by others.
Key messages (cont.)
• Your company is perceived by what you
do and what you say
• Key messages enable you to steer the
interview in the direction you want and
gives you better control of what you say
• Key messages are critical when dealing
with the media -- and even your staff,
customers, government, community,
(Headline you want to see tomorrow)
Facts & Figures
• Facts & Figures
• Facts & Figures
Tip 1: Rehearse & role play delivering key messages
(but not so often that you sound robotic)
Tip 2: Summarize your messages at the end of
Case study: DBS
Asia’s Safest Bank?
Piyush Gupta, DBS CEO
DBS ATM fraud timeline
Some customers informed the bank of unauthorised withdrawals made
in Malaysia through their DBS/POSB ATM/Debit cards.
Launches investigation. Deactivates cards, issues replacements, sets
up hotline, offered 24-hr compensation,, pro-actively contacts
customers with withdrawals in Malaysia. By 8pm, 200 customers
reported losses of about S$1,000 per account.
Holds press conference. Issues statement that investigation points to
card skimming operation at 2 ATMs in Bugis St in Nov, ‘11. 400
customers involving S$500,000 affected. Sends SMSes to users with
any new ATM transactions in Malaysia. Deployed more staff to call
centre, branch. Sends team to check all ATMs for skimming devices.
Jan 11 DBS CEO Piyush Gupta publicly apologizes and regrets anxiety and
inconvenience to customers. But added, it could have happened to
Jan 13 Two suspects arrested with skimming machine in Geylang
Jan 14 New measures announced. Blocks overseas ATM transactions, sets
up real-time SMS alerts for withdrawals above a certain threshold.
Jan 19 More cases reported. Fully compensated all 17 affected customers
a total of S$23,000 within 24hrs.
Jan 6 press conference: Tone matters
Lim Sim Seng, DBS Singapore country manager: “Half a million
(dollars) against a company that makes about S$7 billion in
revenue? I think we can survive.”
“….alertness has definitely heightened, not just in DBS but
probably in all the banks in Singapore. I think it would be foolish
of them to come back to try this again."
DBS learns to tweet
• July 2010. Seven-hour service outage prevented
customers from using ATMs and accessing their
accounts online. DBS worked with their back-end
vendor IBM to resolve the matter and resume
Case study: Kryptonite lock fiasco
• A biker finds out from forum that his
lock can be picked with a Bic pen.
He posts video online.
• US lock-maker Kryptonite claims
users can “upgrade” but “it’s all
locks not just our locks”.
• Bloggers continue to rail at the
• After 10 days, agrees to exchange
old locks for new ones -- est. cost
The power of viral videos from a
Kryptonite's US$10 Million Hit
OCTOBER 25, 2004, MONTVALE, NJ -- Kryptonite delivered a $10 million hit in
unanticipated costs in the third quarter to the Security and Safety division of
parent company Ingersoll-Rand. Despite the setback, Ingersoll-Rand enjoyed an
overall 15 percent increase in third quarter revenue to $2.4 billion.
Kryptonite's financial drubbing began in early September after Internet
video clips demonstrated the apparent ease in cracking its tubular locks
with the shells of ballpoint pens. Kryptonite launched replacement programs
for consumers and retailers, and accelerated retail delivery of new product.
Those moves, however, hit the security division's operating margin.
"Operating margins of 16.5 percent (in the third quarter) declined
compared to 2003, reflecting approximately $10 million of estimated costs
related to Kryptonite cylindrical bicycle locks," the company reported Oct. 21 in a
filing with the Security and Exchange Commission. Its operating margin in 2003
for the same period was 21.2 percent.
The company, founded in 1871, is organized in Bermuda with corporate offices
in Montvale, New Jersey. It has about 42,000 employees worldwide and a
current market capitalization of approximately $11 billion with annual sales of
more than $9 billion. The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange 42
under the symbol IR.
Lock and ‘keys’ offer on
“Like new, this Master Lock is
perfect for temporarily attaching
your bike or scooter to a pole or bike
rack. This temporary attachment is
very handy if your bike does not
have a proper kick-stand.
“It's sturdy steel design and black
color are intimidating for thieves who
don't have a way to open it.
“Comes with two keys. Keep one
with you, and the other safe at home
in your desk drawer.”
• In a social media age, every customer has the
power to affect your brand, product, service in
a profound way
• Social media is growing and influential and you
cannot disregard it anymore
• Be ready to update users via website, Facebook,
Twitter, blog or forums quickly
• False “Our (enter product/service here) are safe”
statements will not hold water
• Kryptonite after claiming ignorance for the longest
time starts own blog - one and half years later
Good news, get it out fast
Bad news, get it out faster!
Dell to recall 4m laptop batteries
CNET News.com,August 14, 2006
Dell and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission plan to recall 4.1 million notebook
batteries on Tuesday, a company representative
The recall affects certain Inspiron, Latitude and
Precision mobile workstations shipped between April
2004 and July 18, 2006. Sony manufactured the
batteries that are being recalled, the representative
This looks like the largest battery recall in the
history of the electronics industry, said Roger Kay,
an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates.
"The scale of it is phenomenal."
Sony delays response,
crisis lingers in public eye…
• Aug 15, 06: Dell recalls 4.1m batteries
• Aug 24, 06: Apple recalls 1.8m batteries
• Sept 15, 06: Virgin Atlantic, Qantas and Korean Air
ban use of Dell and Apple laptops on board its planes,
unless the battery removed
• Sept 28, 06:Lenovo/IBM: 526,000 batteries
• Sept 29, 06:Dell increases recall to 4.2m
• Sept 29, 06:Toshiba recalls 830,000 batteries
Sony finally responds…
Sept 30, 2006: Sony finally announces
global recall of 9.6 million PC batteries. The
recall and replacement would cost as much
as 50 billion yen (about US$423 million)….
…but profit plunges 94 percent for
• Determines cause – battery supplier,
executes costly remedial action with safety in
• Liaises with authority: Works with U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission to
announce global recall of 4.1 million laptop
• Used website: Sets up recall website for
customers to check affected units.
• Assures safety: Guarantees replacement
batteries are safe.
'Alien' substance caused Dell
notebook battery to ignite
By Julian Matthews, ZDNet Asia October 23, 2000.
KUALA LUMPUR – An 'alien' substance was mixed into the
production process of the battery that caused a Dell customer's
notebook to burst into flames and prompted a recall last week.
"As a result of analysis, we defined the cause of the short circuit
that occurred in one cell was due to mixing of an alien substance
at one production process," said Yoshiyuki Arikawa, a
spokesperson of battery-supplier Soft Energy Company, a unit of
Japanese consumer giant Sanyo Electric Co Ltd.
In the e-mail response to ZDNet Asia, Arikawa did not define
what the 'alien' substance could be or how it entered the
Arikawa added, "The defect rate should be very small since it’s a
specific occasion and (went through) normal inspection process
after. The defect is limited only to the 27,000-set lot to Dell."
Dell Computer recalled the 27,000 batteries with a promise to
replace them free of charge….
Sony execs’ bow not deep enough?
“We want to put this
behind us. I take this
problem seriously and
I want to finish the
as quickly as possible
for the sake of our
users and corporate
Corporate Executive Officer
Yutaka Nakagawa, Oct 24,
The Concept Of
Response In Crisis
Protect company’s Reputation
• Dell alerts customers, warns
of danger, sets up website
for recall & replacement
• P = Safeguard
• Dell continues to work with
safety authorities to monitor
• E = Protect
• Dell expresses confidence in
Sony and safety of its
products to customers and
• A = Protect
• Dell takes ownership, shows
customers it cares
• R = Protect
Crisis Communications Summary
Consider People, Environment, Assets, Reputation
• Act quickly, search for details, verify allegations,
• Assess allies, call in your experts; notify affected
parties, authorities and higher ups
• Quickly share available facts with the public
• Show you care, don’t over-react or take it personally
• Accept responsibility when you are at fault
• Prepare a statement and stand by it; when in doubt,
• Tell the truth and be confident
• Simulate crisis: role-play strategies for dealing with
crisis scenarios involving digital media – blogging,
social networks, online video, viral emails, rogue