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Chapter 17: Crisis Management

2015 crises
– VW emissions scandal
– Paris Attacks
– Refugee crisis
– Brazil’s economic, drought, and governmental crises
– Social Media and general candidates
– Takata air bag recalls
2014 crises
– Parliament Hill Shooter
– Rob Ford
– Jian Ghomeshi
– Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women
– Moncton RCMP Attack
– Tim’s Takeover?
Top 2014 Global Crisis Events
– Ebola
– Ukraine
– Malaysia Airlines 370
– Ferguson Missouri
– Oil Collapse
– Boko Haram
Canadian Crisis Events of 2013
– Rob Ford
– Lac Megantic Train Derailment (47 deaths — $50 million in insurance claims)
– Alberta Floods (4 deaths — 1.7 billion damages)
– Cronut burgers (200+ ill)
– Blackberry
– Senate Spending Scandal
– Rehtaeh Parsons Suicide
What’s the difference?
– Issue
– Risk
– Crisis
Decision Matrix
see drawing
Organizational Crisis Truths
– It’s not a matter of if but when
– Most organizations aren’t prepared
– Crisis response time has been reduced to minutes (thanks to SM)
Goal is to get back on the horse
Mass Shooting in Denver
– At a movie theatre
– Warner Bros cancelled all of its advertising for the opening weekend, valued at 3-5 million
– Quick crisis management drew positive reviews
Lance Armstrong
– Years of lying, decided to tell the truth, life of lies
Because of the Internet and social media, organizations are always one step away from crisis
Crisis pervades society
Insurance companies such as AIG and Chubb now offer crisis management insurance to pay for corporations turning to crisis management agencies for help in defending damaged brands from such issues as good contaminations, environmental disasters, executive scandals, government bailouts

PR has benefited because of all of these crises

Unplanned visibility, can strike anyone at any time
Examples of crises
– Government
– Business
– Education (Duke University = lacrosse players)
– Health care sector
– Religion (priest scandals)
– Charitable institutions
– Journalism (plagiarism scandals)
– Public Relations Industry
SIRMC Process: Issues Management
– Issue Identification
– Assess Likelihood of IRC
– Evaluate the Impact
– Prioritize
– Assign Responsibility/Ownership
– Plan for/Implement Corrective Action
– Continually monitor
– Report
Are you having a crisis?
– Catastrophes
– Environmental
– Class Action Lawsuits
– Consumerism Actions
– Defects and Recalls
– Discrimination
– Labour Disputes
– Hostile Takeovers
– Whistle blowing
– White-collar crime
Issues Management
– Increasingly important for PR practitioners
– Must constantly be aware of primary issues that impact the organizations
– Term coins in 1976 by Howard Chase
How does Howard Chase define issues management?
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
Issues management encompasses what following elements?
1) Anticipate emerging issues
– Is all about pre crisis planning

2) Identify issues selectively
– select 5-10 issues to deal with before

3) Deal with opportunities and vulnerabilities

4) Plan from the outside in
– External environment dictates the selection of priority issues

5) Bottom-line orientation
– Purpose = defend organization in light of external factors + enhance firm’s business by seizing imminent opportunities

Risk Management
Outgrowth of issues management

Began as process of taking scientific data related to health and environmental hazards and presenting them to a lay audience in a manger that is both understandable and meaningful

Perception is reality

Showing how behaviour changes when a person processes messages during high-stress situations

What is the message-mapping process developed by risk communicators?
1) Identify stakeholders

2) Determine specific concerns for each stakeholder group

3) Analyze specific concerns to fit underlying general concerns

4) Conduct structure brainstorming with input from message-mapping teams

5) Assemble supporting facts and proof for each key message

6) Ask outside experts to systematically test messages

7) Plan delivery of resulting messages and supporting materials

Message maps adhere to what standard requirements?
– Three key messages
– Three supporting facts for each key message
– Seven to 12 words per message
Risk communication depends on a organization’s actions
Harvard Business Review’s definition of a crisis
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
7 warning signs that appear during a crisis that the company must recognize
1. Surprise — usually unexpected

2. Insufficient information — difficult to get a grip on everything that is happening

3. Escalating events — unfolding too quickly making it more difficult for organizations to respond in an orderly manner

4. Loss of control — too many things happening at the same time

5. Increased outside scrutiny

6. Siege Mentality — feels surrounded “no comment”

7. Panic

What is a corporate problem?
More short-term issues that affects one element or department of the organization and can be limited

Crisis: longer-term issue that impacts the entire organization, affects many parts of that organization, and runs the risk of damaging the organization’s reputation

What are the fife planning issues paramount for planning in a crisis?
1. For each potentially impacted audience, define the risk

2. For each risk defined, describe the actions that mitigate the risk

3. Identify the cause of the risk

4. Demonstrate responsible management action — most essential in the planning phase = fixing the problem (take proper action)

5. Create a consistent message — be honest, never cover up a lie

Goals of crisis management
1) Terminate the crisis quickly

2) Limit the damage

3) Restore credibility

What is the most critical element in crisis?
Handling the media

They become “feeding frenzy”

What are some of the battlefield rules to engage with the media?
1. Set up media headquarters — prevent the media from penetrating the company when it is most vulnerable

2. Establish media rules
– which parts of operation are off limits, who isn’t available

3. Don’t speculate (suicidal)

4. Feed the beast — keep media occupied with new information that advances the story

5. Speed triumphs — delete what is being wrongly reported

What are the 10 general principles that are said to the media while in crisis?
1. Speak first and often

2. Don’t speculate

3. Go off the record at your own peril

4. Stay with the facts

5. Be open and concerned, not defensive

6. Make your point and repeat it

7. Don’t wage way with the media; when you do, you lose

8. Establish yourself as the most authoritative source

9. Stay calm and be truthful and cooperative

10. Never lie

Credo Quia Impossible
I believe it because it is impossible
Identifying, Prioritizing and Responding
– Risk Description
– Root causes
– Description of existing controls
– Adequacy of existing controls
– Assessment of risk
– Responsible Party
– Risk response and actions
– Monitoring
Decide on appropriate action for crisis
– Acceptable risk for appetite

– Outsource to more capable people

– Too risky, get out of activity

– Create controls and activities to improve likelihood and impact

The path to preparedness
1. Implement issues anticipation/management system (good use of SM)

2. Develop and fine-tune a crisis mindset

3. Institute an organization-wide crisis management/business continuity approach

4. Promote and develop crisis leaders

5. Strengthen relationships with key stakeholders

6. Ready your communications team (traditional and SM)

7. Learn form mistakes (yours and others)

Social Media Crisis Management
– People believe that social media set the tone for most crisis today — not true
– Traditional media still dictates the vast majority of crises
What is a dark website?
– Social media strategy becoming more popular for corporations
– Pre-developed site that doesn’t become “live” until crisis strikes
– Equipped with documents perceived to be necessary in a crisis
– Point: serve as source of information for the outside world, so that the organization become to go-to contact for explanations and updates about the crisis
What is the most respected skill in the PR practice?
Crisis management

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