6 Principles for Crisis Management

Crisis management is an important part of public relations. PR professionals need to be prepared for a crisis and know how to handle it. Crisis management is the process by which an organization or company deals with out-of-control issues.

The strategic approach to crisis management includes these six principles:

1. Existing Relationships

It is important to communicate with those that you already have exsisting relationships with during a crisis. Exsisting relationships might include: employees, volunteers, stockholders, donors, community leaders, customers, government and professional authorities. The principle of communicating with exsisting relationships means to keep everyone informed; their continued support is critical in rebuilding your activites after a crisis.

2. Media-as-Ally

Crises potentially impact a large number of people. This principle calls for treating the news media as allies to provide opportunities to communicate with key publics. If there is already a relationship between the organization and the media before the crisis, there is a smaller chance of the media becoming hostile during the crisis.

3. Reputational Priorities

After safety issues, your top priority is your organization’s reputation. Set objectives to maintain or restore your credibility. Turn the crisis into a chance to enhance your reputation for social responsibility with the organization’s various publics.

4. Quick Response

Access is key; be accessible to your publics as quickly as possible. If the crisis is major, a standard guildline for communicating with the news media is the one-hour rule. Within the first hour of a crisis, an organization should have the first message to their publics, particularly the media. If the crisis is less attention-getting, it is acceptable for the organization to get their first message out in five or six hours after the crisis.

5. Full Disclosure

Silence is most certainly NOT key in the time of a crisis. The organization should provide as much information as possible, without speculating about facts or admitting fault. Publics should feel like they know everything that the organization knows. Also, it is never ethical to use misleading or false information.

6. One Voice

In the time or crisis, an organization should have ONE trained spokesperson to represent the organization. If more than one spokesperson is needed, each person should know what the others are saying. It is important to give the same information and not confuse the publics.

Reference: Strategic Planning for Public Relations by Ronald D. Smith

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