What Crisis?

Between the misallocations of bailout money and the fleecing of investors, we’ve seen our share of crises in the news. As public relations practitioners, we know a crisis can arise at any time, and a well-laid plan inclusive of appropriate spokespersons, an escalation chart, messaging and media training best practices can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to the ever-critical (and rightly so) public eye. While your company may not be under the public microscope, you still have important audiences to consider if a crisis arises.

There are basic tenants of executing a good crisis communications strategy:
1) Take responsibility. Be accountable – immediately. Do not transfer blame. Highlight your company’s positive track record, which will help establish credibility in a time that it might be questioned.
2) Express empathy. Be genuine in demonstrating that you understand the frustration or loss that resulted from the crisis. This will help make you and the company human.
3) Offer a solution. It’s not enough to say “I’m sorry.” Be specific in steps your company will take to fix the situation and ensure it doesn’t occur again. This will help create or rebuild confidence.
4) Deliver. Follow through on your promises. Be prepared to illustrate your company’s progress to the media, key stakeholders and affected individuals. This will help rebuild trust.

Kudos to AirTran for prompt communication to the public after the airline removed Muslim passengers from flight 175 to Orlando, Fla. Which company deserves a slap on the wrist for its crisis handling? Post a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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