12 Golden Rules of Crisis Management

Caleb Owino

Sat, 03/31/2012 - 09:00

Corporate Messaging

Corporate messaging is the pro-active identification and documentation of the most important things you want to say about your business or company to your target audiences. It’s an expression of how your product/service offering meets an important customer need or differs from the competition.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!

Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

A good messaging strategy should not only look at the positive side but should anticipate issues (issue management) as well as spell out how crises will be handled.

  • Be focused, don’t get lost in the details.
  • Make your messages relevant and more memorable
  • Resonate with your audience/public
  • Seek and encourage change
  • Mobilise people to act

All messages must be:

  • Important
  • Single-minded
  • Differentiating
  • Concise
  • Credible
  • Consistent
  • Meaningful
  • Sustainable

3 Important things in Corporate Messaging

  1. Corporate Purpose
  2. Evidence Based Communication
  3. Issues & Crisis Management

Corporate Purpose 

Striking a balance between substance and responsibility in a world where corporations are expected to deliver on profit and ethics is imperative. Performance with a Purpose is based on the belief that companies can – and must – achieve business and financial success while also leaving a lasting and positive imprint on society.

A well articulated corporate purpose helps differentiate, improves reputation and therefore minimises reputation risk, creates competitive advantage and builds trust.

High performing companies clearly define and communicate corporate purpose. A 2010 study by BursonMarsteller established that a company’s reputation is 60% based on Performance and 40% on Purpose? It also discovered that having a clearly defined Corporate Purpose can impact a company’s financial performance by up to 17%. 

The largest share of company communication efforts around corporate purpose should be dedicated to balancing the interests of stakeholders through communicating on issues such as environmental performance, social responsibility, and ability to create and sustain employment, ethics and transparency, openness to engagement and dialogue, compliance to regulation and quality of workplace. 

Things to consider:

 crisis management - fireworks advertising uganda

Evidence Based Communication

Evidence-Based Communications is a scientific approach to communications. It is driven by empirical evidence during the entire communication life cycle- at the beginning, the middle and the end.

Today’s client seeks for more accountability and proof of return on investment. Advertising Value Equivalent or mere appearance in the media is no-longer enough to prove value. Clients are not only interested in Output (who have we reached and how well?), but they are also interested in outtake (What have target audiences thought and done?) as well as the outcome (What has changed for the better?)

To accurately capture this, it is important that correct data be captured at the beginning of any project, to allow for measurement and comparison at the end of the project and therefore be able to demonstrate value for the client.   

The Evidence-Based approach fosters creativity and flexibility, as it allows for the capture of various insights from stakeholders or target audiences, therefore opening up new possibilities that strategizing and theorising alone cannot achieve.  The approach is also extremely cost-effective, as it assures that resources are being committed to tactics and messages grounded in evidence, as well as monitoring program effectiveness throughout a communications initiative and allowing for course correction if necessary to optimize results.

Evidence-Based Communication is a holistic approach to communications and ends the guess work in communication. It ensures creativity and flexibility.  It is a differentiator, as goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any PR Programme.

Issues & Crisis Management

An issue is a point, matter, or dispute, the decision of which is of special or public importance. It can also be defined as the social, political, and economic concerns that affect an organisation’s strategic future and viability.

A crisis is a situation that falls outside normal business continuity and emergency response arrangements that significantly threatens the safety or well being of people, the environment, the company’s reputation and/or its financial bottom line.

Simply put, a crisis is an issue in a hurry.

Given the speed with which crises occur, the best form of crisis management has always been prevention. To minimise crises, leaders must run their organisations responsibly and safely. Proactively engaging with stakeholders and responding appropriately to their feedback always minimises damage, even in a full-blown crisis situation.

Every good crisis response must be consistent with general business principles, namely;

  • minimising harm to people
  • minimising environmental impact
  • protecting the company’s reputation
  • re-establishing business continuity
  • minimising company liabilities
  • learning to prevent reoccurrence

12 Golden Rules Of Crisis Management

  1. Don’t Panic
  2. Speed Is Of Essence
  3. Protect Your No.1 Asset: People
  4. Say And Demonstrate The Right Things
  5. Work As A Team
  6. Every Team Needs A Leader
  7. Take Time Out
  8. Keep Communicating
  9. Check And Double Check
  10. Monitor Your Environment
  11. Have A Clear Destination But … Be Prepared To Be Flexible
  12. Get Back To Business! 

Article by Kyamutetera Muhereza - Public Relations Director, fireworks Advertising Uganda Limited

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