Crisis Comms 101: Why Crisis Sucks

This is an introduction to a short series of posts about the fundamental approach crisis communication ninjas use to assess and respond to crisis situations for their organizations or clients.

If you’re a manager without a crisis guru on staff – or without a plan – you’re assuming a huge amount of risk. When a crisis impacts your organization or company, it will threaten to:

Erode the legitimacy of your organization
After missing a mayday call from sailboat Morning Dew that lead to the death of one adult and two children in Decemeber 1997, the legitimacy of the Coast Guard rescue station in Charleston, S.C. was severely eroded.

Reverse the mission of your organization
After the space shuttle Columbia exploded in February 2003, NASA faced public and political pressure to abandon the shuttle program.

Disturb your organization’s sense of identify
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, it came to light that members of the Mineral Management Service – an agency charged with oversight of oil platform operations – were, essentially, colluding with those they were charged with regulating. So damaged was their reputation that within months of the incident – and as cleanup operations continued – they reorganized and changed their name to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Ultimately, the impacts of a true crisis, managed poorly, are long lasting and difficult, if not impossible, to recover from. Poorly managed crises drain resources, demoralize employees and devastate the bottom line, whatever that bottom line may be.

The good news is, a skilled crisis communicator has the ability to recognize the rumblings of a true crisis on the horizon in time to take the measured steps necessary to put the mitigation plan in play without sending employees and stakeholders into a frenzy. The bad news is, most organizations don’t have a skilled crisis communicator. BUT, the other, other good news is you will greatly improve your chances by grasping a few simple concepts to help you recognize the warning signs. You also need to have a plan, even a simple one, to guide you through the maelstrom.

In this series, Crisis Comms 101, we discuss how a manager can:

  1. Recognize the ingredients that make a crisis
  2. Prepare for crisis long before it hits
  3. Recognize the red flags or canaries in the coal mine that warn crisis is coming
  4. Identify simple steps and actions to minimize the long-term impacts
  5. Assess how well the storm was weathered once it has passed


One thought on “Crisis Comms 101: Why Crisis Sucks

  1. Pingback: Creating a Connection: 6 Elements to consider for communications planning | decipher communications

Talk to me, Goose.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s