Crisis Communication

Crisis communication has been an evolving field for some years now. Most of us have learned that a prompt, well-considered response is critical in crisis situations. This week, not only can we learn what not to do, we can learn some specifics of what to do from the likes of Beyonce and the Somali pirates, as well as get some good tips from other experts. Read on...

Here's what you need to do to ensure your crisis will flourish and grow (or how not to communicate in a crisis). (Item #1)     What do we know about crisis communication that can be applied reliably when a crisis occurs? (Item #2)     Crisis communication plans provide an organizational framework of who will be responsible for which specific task, when and if a crisis should occur. (Item #3)    

The author of this article learned many things about crisis communications from a hijacking by Somali pirates. (Item #4)     Because the first two days following a crisis are the most critical, preparation is a key factor to ensure the situation is dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. (Item #5)     In one timely appearance, Beyonce essentially ran through the four key steps from the playbook of crisis communications and management. (Item #6)    

As always, I look forward to hearing about your concerns with regard to business continuity. If there are any topics that you'd like to see covered, email me at

Bob Mellinger, President
Attainium Corp

1. The Biggest Mistakes in Crisis Communications

All organizations are vulnerable to crises. You can't serve any population without being subjected to situations involving lawsuits, accusations of impropriety, sudden changes in ownership or management, and other volatile situations on which your stakeholders -- and the media that serves them -- often focus. The cheapest way to turn experience into future profits is to learn from others' mistakes. The following examples of inappropriate crisis communications policies, culled from real-life situations, provide a tongue-in-cheek guide about what NOT to do when your organization is faced with a crisis.

2. State of Crisis Communication: Evidence and the Bleeding Edge

Crisis communication is an applied field that seeks to provide guidance for crisis managers in an attempt to limit the harm that crisis can inflict on stakeholders and the organization. The goal of the article is to highlight what researchers have found to be the most successful crisis communications practices.

3. Crisis Communication: How to Manage Them Effectively

The most challenging part of any crisis, whether it is natural or man-made is the reaction of the management. Not only do they have to be prepared to respond quickly but respond with the right response. Failure to do so will only lead to spin, not communication, which in turn doesn't mitigate damages but rather causes embarrassment, humiliation, prolonged visibility, and often, unnecessary litigation for the business.

4. Navigating the High Seas:
What Somali Pirates Taught Me about Crisis Communication

The film "Captain Phillips," tells the story of the first pirate hijacking of a U.S. commercial ship in nearly 200 years. When the incident took place in April 2009, the author was working as a member of the communications team for Maersk Line, Limited, the U.S. company that owned and operated Maersk Alabama, the 700-foot container ship at the center of the incident. The ship's captain and crew emerged from the event safely, and the author learned several important crisis communications lessons during those extraordinary days.

5. PR Insider: The First 48 of Crisis Communication

When an organization has a crisis, the same rules of communication apply as in ordinary times, but the response must be well rehearsed and deliberate. The first 48 hours of a crisis are the most important because they determine whether the situation becomes a manageable problem or an out-of-control disaster. It's not possible to bide your time when a crisis happens; ignoring the event and burying your head in the sand will inevitably result in the situation turning into an unmitigated disaster.

6. A Lesson in Crisis Communication from Beyonce

The legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell prided himself on "telling it like it is." Beyonce just did a musical take on Cosell's worldview by belting out a live, stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at a pre-Super Bowl press conference on Friday in front of hundreds of reporters. As the story goes, without any introduction or explanation, the singer entered the room, asked the press representatives to stand, and belted out the national anthem in its entirety.

Quote of the Week:

"Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."

-- Theodore Roosevelt

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