Crisis Management: Writing for Crisis


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Writing for crisis management comes with its own set of rules. Learn core ideals, key tenets, and even strategy for social media crisis communications.

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  • Not single message to announce PW reset, sent out in bulk. Compassionate, honest, informative and interactive?
  • Crisis Management: Writing for Crisis

    1. 1. CRISIS MANAGEMENT: WRITING FOR CRISIS Brought to you by Bernstein Crisis Management BernsteinCrisisManagement
    2. 2. CRISIS WRITING V. COMPOSITION  Subject matter not only consideration  Audience, emotions surrounding events, brand tone  Flowery language not welcome  No jargon, no prose, straight talk  Hostile audience  Can expect to be questioned, doubted by readers, often on same page writing is published.  Platforms make a difference.  Limits vary, from 140 chars to full-blown press release. BernsteinCrisisManagement
    3. 3. THE BASICS  The Five Tenets  Prompt, compassionate, honest, informative, interactive  Miss one and risk a backlash  Always consider your audience.  Feelings, mindstate, background, education level - in depth!  Five W‟s for incident, impact  Who, what, when, where, why  Big H  How? How did things go wrong? How are you going to fix it? How will you prevent it from happening again?  Transparency in all  Document and describe your process  Write all comms as if the public will eventually see them.  No internal rage memos BernsteinCrisisManagement
    4. 4. WHICH TENET IS TWITTER MISSING? Hi, [name] Twitter believes that your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter. We‟ve reset your password to prevent others from accessing your account. You‟ll need to create a new password for your Twitter account. You can select a new password at this link:… As always, you can also request a new password from our password-resend page: Please don‟t reuse your old password and be sure to choose a strong password (such as one with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols). In general, be sure to: Always check that your browser‟s address bar is on a website before entering your password. Phishing sites often look just like Twitter, so check the URL before entering your login information! Avoid using websites or services that promise to get you lots of followers. These sites have been known to send spam updates and damage user accounts. Review your approved connections on your Applications page at If you see any applications that you don‟t recognize, click the Revoke Access button. For more information, visit our help page for hacked or compromised accounts. The Twitter Team BernsteinCrisisManagement
    5. 5. GODADDY GETS IT RIGHT Dear XXXX, We owe you a big apology for the intermittent service outages we experienced on September 10 that may have impacted your website, your email and other Go Daddy services. We let you down and we know it. We take our responsibilities – and the trust you place in us – very seriously. I cannot express how sorry I am to those of you who were inconvenienced. The service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables. Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and We have implemented a series of immediate measures to fix the problem. At no time was any sensitive customer information, including credit card data, passwords or names and addresses, compromised. Throughout our history, we have provided 99.999% uptime in our DNS infrastructure. This is the level of performance we expect from ourselves. Monday, we fell short of these expectations. We have learned from this event and will use it to drive improvement in our services. As a result of this disruption, you will receive 30% off any new product or renewal.* This offer will be available to you for the next 7 days. Simply place source code Apology4a in your cart or mention the code when you call 480-505-8877. It‟s an honour to serve you. As always, please call us 24/7 at 480-505-8877 – anytime, for any reason. Sincerely, Scott Wagner CEO, BernsteinCrisisManagement
    6. 6. NEGATIVE TERM ASSOCIATION A classic crisis/PR writing mistake is to use the very terms you are seeking to avoid being associated with. Never repeat a negative, even in a denial. “I‟m far from being a dirty player,” Miami Heat‟s Dwyane Wade tweeted after being suspended for kicking Charlotte‟s Ramon Sessions in the groin. - Phrase made the headline of USA Today article, “Dwyane Wade: „I‟m far from being a dirty player,‟” Dec. 28, 2012 “We are not against marriage per se. We‟re not callous and repressed man-haters. We‟re not bitter about ex-boyfriends who cheated or tried to teach us the correct way to pour laundry detergent,” - Lisa Arnold and Christina Campbell, The Atlantic, “The High Price of Being Single in America.” Jan 14, 2013 “I am not big brother,”Ethan Roeder, director of Obama for America‟s data operation, Washington Post, “Obama data director: „I am not Big Brother,‟“ Dec.6, 2012 BernsteinCrisisManagement
    7. 7. NEGATIVE TERM ASSOCIATION CONT. “We just want the public to understand that we‟re not perverts,” TSA screener and local union official Ricky McCoy, in regards to public reaction to a recently introduced new pat down policy. Associated Press, “‟We‟re not Perverts:‟ TSA Workers Push Back,” Nov. 4 2012 “It‟s not just a shrunken down iPad,”Apple Marketing Chief Phil Schiller as the company released the iPad mini. US News, “Will the iPad Mini Be Successful?” Oct. 23, 2012 Reporter was particularly kind here, could have easily been, “Just a shrunken down iPad?” BernsteinCrisisManagement
    8. 8. WRITING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA If you want your press releases, statements, etc. to be social-share friendly…  Short sentences  Easily digested explanations Major points in Tweetable form  120 chars or less, leave room for @names and commentary BernsteinCrisisManagement
    9. 9. COMMENTING/RESPONDING ON SOCIAL  Research  Don‟t make your first post to a Facebook group two minutes after you discover the page, understand your surroundings or trolls will eat you.  Think.  Make sure your common sense is fired up. If you have doubts, stop and ask.  Show respect at all times  Maintain confidentiality  Don‟t share private information just to prove a point - legal, business ramifications  Be transparent  Use real name, identify employer or admit relationships with orgs under discussion  Have a clear goal  Don‟t write just to write, aim to achieve a goal – inform/guide/correct/thank  Personalize, humanize  Use OP‟s name, conversational, positive tone  Calm down with the abrvtns ( don‟t do that) BernsteinCrisisManagement