Crisis management is no laughing matter, it’s fast, concise and quite exhilarating. PR expert Ian Hamilton personally joined us at St. Lawrence College and shed some light on the PR industry and making sure all the good we’ve learned, is balanced out with the bad. He provided us with some hearty advice in order to help prepare us for matters of crisis and how to react when in a communications role.
Ian is currently acting as one of the Founding Principals at DFH Public Affairs, in which deals with acquisitions, media relations, proxy contests and more. These are the three major points he shared with us when managing a communications crisis.
1. Recognize and identify a crisis that no one else can see
It all comes down to a simmering vs. explosive crisis. The simmering crisis is all about the act of building up to something that will essentially create a crisis. To be able to recognize, understand and fully expect that the small occurrences have potential as a crisis, or be perceived as such from the public point of view. It is essential to place importance to deal with these issues as they arise, rather than wait until they become explosive.
2. Understand your communication goals
It is essential for transparency and allow the public to be aware of the situation and that the stream of information will be open until a resolution is made. Being able to recognize how the public perceives the situation and the company in a positive way is essential to maintaining the attitude of how your public will behave towards your company.
3. Understand the principals on behaviour during a crisis
First and foremost, don’t be the person who says “don’t panic”. Most, if not all people will panic when told not to. It’s essential to control your own emotions and behave in an appropriate manner. Again, believe in your gut. Stop and think about how to address the situation instead of acting immediately.
Always have compassion, show respect and answer questions. One of our first PR experts; Stephanie Minna-Cass, put it in the most simplest ways and said to always ask yourself “What would Mom say?” and run with it.