You can't plan for a crisis ... or can you?

I'm a firm believer that preparation is everything. Of course, I have to say that some of my best work has been done under pressure of a deadline, with no notice and a lot of luck!

By and large, I prefer the not to ride on a tide of adrenaline on a regular basis. So, planning for a disaster - a bit like paying for insurance - can be very reassuring.

There are lots of different kinds of crises, but the ones I tend to deal with are the sort that affect reputation. What do I mean? Well, something like a situation occurring that has earnt an organisation the attention of the public or media for some negative reason. The organisation needs to make a response/apology/explanation that will be listened to and accepted.

There are so many fantastic examples of instances where this has been done well, but probably better ones where it has been done badly, and there's really something to learn from.

Let's take an example of something that was handled badly - when Paul Nuttall, the newly elected leader of UKIP was questioned during a TV interview about the friends that he had lost during the Hillsborough disaster of 1989. It quickly became clear that Mr Nuttall was unaware of this, even though it had been taken from his own website. Later, his press officer, Lynda Roughley took responsibility for the error.

The claim - arguably - couldn't have been worse. The Hillsborough Disaster has been surrounded in a fog of lies, deceit and rightous anger from families and the local community and anyone who was involved. It is such a sensitive issue that any reference to it will provoke anger, distrust and negativity. The exact opposite effect than I guess the press officer was looking for.

Telling the truth and quickly is the only solution in any case of this kind.

The good news is that this kind of thing can be planned for - not only ensuring that the information you put out about your client is checked by them!

Crisis Management Planning is a bit of an art - there are courses you can attend, but it might be easier and faster to have somebody put one together for you that covers a range of situations - natural disasters, human error, unpopular decisions and much more


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