Communicating in a Crisis    CATHERINE WORBOYS,        CURTIN&CO          www.curtinandco.com
For discussion today• What makes a crisis?• Why effective communication is crucial in a crisis• Key stakeholders and pre-c...
What makes a crisis?• Rather like earthquake prediction    – Many indicators, but unreliable    – So you need to be prepar...
Perceptions are Powerful• In today’s media landscape:  • If you think you have a problem then you                probably ...
Why managing a crisis matters• Reputation management     • Impacts on sales, credibility, credit rating, etc.     • Could ...
Perrier – the iconic brand of the ‘80s                in crisis                 www.curtinandco.com
Lessons to be learnt• Things always get worse before/if they get  better - a snowball effect     • BP – oil spill• Murphy’...
The dangers of the ‘cover-up’• Cover-up – a media definition: Deliberately (a)  hiding information (b) not releasing it pr...
Cadbury and salmonella20th January: Cadbury Discovers Salmonella19th June: Cadbury admits contamination to the Food Standa...
Key rules of communicating in a crisis• Speed is of the essence   – If you have information, release it   – If not, have “...
Crisis ManagementSome of the key players you       must know           www.curtinandco.com
The Media – old and new• Speed is of the essence• The media watches the media       • TFL suffered from Twitter campaign a...
The Politicians• Politicians have strong drivers       • Ego and altruism• Make sure they have a special ‘hot line’ number...
The pressure groups• Remember they are competitive businesses   – Their own corporate battles - Membership drives• They ca...
Handling a Crisis  The Boy Scout Rule:     Be prepared,internally and externally       www.curtinandco.com
Planning for a crisis – Internally• One Co-Ordinator/Director leading a team   – All senior roles must be duplicated   – E...
The crisis management team (CMT)                                                        Crisis Management                 ...
Planning for a crisis – Externally• Set up a stakeholder management programme   • So you know the key players before you n...
Conclusions• Crisis Management is a sequential stage of Issues  Management• A company which manages issues well will eithe...
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Catherine communicating in a crisis presentation

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Catherine Worboys (Managing Director at Curtin&Co) discusses the importance of effective communication during a crisis, as well as how issues can be prevented from becoming crises through stakeholder and communications management before an issue arises.

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Catherine communicating in a crisis presentation

  1. 1. Communicating in a Crisis CATHERINE WORBOYS, CURTIN&CO www.curtinandco.com
  2. 2. For discussion today• What makes a crisis?• Why effective communication is crucial in a crisis• Key stakeholders and pre-crisis communication• Assembling a crisis team• Effectively preparing for a crisis – Both internally and externally www.curtinandco.com
  3. 3. What makes a crisis?• Rather like earthquake prediction – Many indicators, but unreliable – So you need to be prepared for a range of situations• In crises:• Those with good reputations – will be less scarred; recover more quickly• Therefore you must handle issues well; tone of voice, honesty, generosity, etc. to avoid a crisis A crisis is an issue badly managed www.curtinandco.com
  4. 4. Perceptions are Powerful• In today’s media landscape: • If you think you have a problem then you probably have one • If someone else thinks you have a problem then you definitely have one • EG: TGV France “crash” – simulation which was reported as real www.curtinandco.com
  5. 5. Why managing a crisis matters• Reputation management • Impacts on sales, credibility, credit rating, etc. • Could make recruitment more difficult - hits internal morale • Uncomfortable for management• Expensively built brand image is tarnished• In the best case you can gain • Tylenol – blackmailer threatened to poison products• In the worst case you lose the company • Perrier – accidental minute contamination www.curtinandco.com
  6. 6. Perrier – the iconic brand of the ‘80s in crisis www.curtinandco.com
  7. 7. Lessons to be learnt• Things always get worse before/if they get better - a snowball effect • BP – oil spill• Murphy’s Law rules – No one is ever in the right place at the right time – If it can happen on Christmas Day, it will• Everyone has a different agenda – Which you need to know before a crisis hits www.curtinandco.com
  8. 8. The dangers of the ‘cover-up’• Cover-up – a media definition: Deliberately (a) hiding information (b) not releasing it promptly• Hiding information always leads to either – economies with the truth – misinformation or – plain lying The Hydra Syndrome• The more lies you tell, the more you must tell www.curtinandco.com
  9. 9. Cadbury and salmonella20th January: Cadbury Discovers Salmonella19th June: Cadbury admits contamination to the Food StandardsAgency when outbreak of Salmonella linked to product22nd June: FSA says Cadbury posed ‘unacceptable’ risk to public23rd June: Chocolate recalled30th June: Cadbury documents show same factory infected with salmonella in 2002 Outcome: Cadbury looks as though it knew the problem existed and wilfully put its customers at risk www.curtinandco.com
  10. 10. Key rules of communicating in a crisis• Speed is of the essence – If you have information, release it – If not, have “no comment” prepared – Five minutes is a long time in Cyberspace• Know your stakeholders before you are in a crisis – Who will help you when you need them?• Prepare your key messages – And all the scenarios you can think of – they may seem extreme but crises are• Most of all – prepare your people – Who is your crisis team? – How regularly do they train? – Everyone else should be trained to give “no comment” www.curtinandco.com
  11. 11. Crisis ManagementSome of the key players you must know www.curtinandco.com
  12. 12. The Media – old and new• Speed is of the essence• The media watches the media • TFL suffered from Twitter campaign against employee in 2010• Website comment - posted fast • Can deflect hundreds of queries quickly • Can be easily prepared in advance as a “hidden” page to trigger• Agenda-setting rather than opinion influencers – Media tells people what to think about• They are under fierce competitive pressure• Journalism is ‘the first rough cut of history’• Truth is an early casualty – But having friends can help www.curtinandco.com
  13. 13. The Politicians• Politicians have strong drivers • Ego and altruism• Make sure they have a special ‘hot line’ number for crises• Get to them before they get to you – Have telephone numbers (office, home, mobile, addresses, e-mails, etc.)• One/two Directors to contact top politicians• Senior Managers handle local councillors, MPs etc.• A crisis is an easy campaign “band wagon” for politicians – If they know you and support you in the media it can reduce impact This is third party advocacy - they can say what you can’t www.curtinandco.com
  14. 14. The pressure groups• Remember they are competitive businesses – Their own corporate battles - Membership drives• They can take risks - edge of the law• Speculate with strong and inaccurate views• The are symbiotic friends of the media – The environment is fashionable - a good ‘horror story’ – They are underdogs - like the journalist – They are ‘independent’ - no immediate financial gain• Get middle managers or handle them – Same consistent messages – Do not be side-tracked onto other issues – Discussion can take the heat out of relationship www.curtinandco.com
  15. 15. Handling a Crisis The Boy Scout Rule: Be prepared,internally and externally www.curtinandco.com
  16. 16. Planning for a crisis – Internally• One Co-Ordinator/Director leading a team – All senior roles must be duplicated – Easy to assemble – get on the ground early (30 mins)• Crisis Management handbook – Easy to read and use, checklists, templates, etc. – Reviewed regularly – as a priority• Train well and often - exercises, briefings, etc.• Get the messages right • Only the truth - don’t be afraid of ‘don’t know’ • Have a ‘life-belt’ statement ready• Empower the team to handle the crisis • NO outside interference – not the role of the CEO www.curtinandco.com
  17. 17. The crisis management team (CMT) Crisis Management Team Leader Secretary CEO Customers/ InternalOFFICERS: Operations Media Political Legal Suppliers Comms Political Call Centre/ Human Field Press RoomSAILORS: liaison Sales Resource information team team team team Field information www.curtinandco.com
  18. 18. Planning for a crisis – Externally• Set up a stakeholder management programme • So you know the key players before you need them • Invest in a CRM programme to monitor progress • Make it a key KPI for all senior executives • EG: To meet one journalist a week; one politician a month• Regularly brainstorm potential scenarios • And create key messages for them• Review hidden website pages regularly • And consider social media options• Ask your advocates to input into your key messages • And make them the first target for supportive quotes• Above all…train everyone regularly • Even if it is just to say “no comment” www.curtinandco.com
  19. 19. Conclusions• Crisis Management is a sequential stage of Issues Management• A company which manages issues well will either avoid crises or lower their impact• To manage a crisis well, you must be prepared• Crisis management and comms is an on-going process – It cannot start when the crisis occurs• And this is all hard work…• ...but then, a crisis is always much more fun than work www.curtinandco.com

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