Crisis Communication

Winston Churchill once said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. This is also true of news about a crisis and your response to it. You have to be ready to talk to all stakeholders when a crisis occurs, as soon as it occurs -- to get out in front of it. The first response does not have to be definitive, because you will need to refine the message as you learn more about the situation. But you do have to respond. This week's articles can help with your response... and check out the worst crisis communications mistakes in Item #5.

The basic steps of effective crisis communications are not difficult, but they require advance work in order to minimize damage. (Item #1)     Let's take a look at who's done crisis communication poorly, who's done it well, and finally, how user experience professionals can lead the charge within their teams to champion a proactive crisis communication plan. (Item #2)     Dealing with a technical crisis can be a major support headache; here's what to do when things go wrong. (Item #3)    

If there's one area where organizations stumble when responding to breaches, it's in keeping stakeholders informed, and doing that job well requires having plans in place long before cybercriminals come calling. (Item #4)     There are 13 key elements to creating a successful crisis communications strategy; check these tongue-in-cheek examples of how companies continue to get even the basics wrong. (Item #5)     This article provides some of the best examples of crisis communication. (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 10 Steps of Crisis Communications

Every organization is vulnerable to crises. The days of playing ostrich -- burying your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away -- are gone. You can try, but your stakeholders will not be understanding or forgiving because they've watched what happened with many high profile companies in recent years. If you don't prepare, you will incur more damage. Existing crisis management-related often fail to address the many communications issues related to crisis or disaster response.

2. Developing a Crisis Communication Strategy

Government, healthcare, and retail organizations alike are on Twitter, have Facebook pages, and provide RSS feeds to further communication. Yet still, we see organizations whose immediate reactions to crises are destructive to their credibility, if not to their actual user base. Consider Volkswagen, whose immediate reaction to scandal was to blame their own employees, or Google, who blamed their poor April Fool's joke on a bug, before realizing the error in their ways and taking responsibility. While typically left to public relations teams--or any single team, for that matter-- crisis communication requires the involvement of people across the organization to create a positive user experience in a hectic moment.

3. The Crisis Communication Handbook for Customer Service

From a customer service standpoint, crisis communication planning is a critical part of being prepared to deal with crises that directly involve your customers: server issues, security breaches, or anything else that causes a significant issue on the user experience front. In this article, you'll find a guide to creating a crisis management plan that your customer support team can implement when things go wrong.

4. Crisis Communication after an Attack

Security experts say even the most security-conscious organizations are often woefully ill-prepared when it comes to communicating with internal and external stakeholders during and after cyberattacks--and that leaves them scrambling to regain control in a crisis. That's typically because they didn't do enough work before the breach.

5. 13 worst crisis communication mistakes

It's a sad fact that crisis management case studies are more often about what companies did wrong rather than what they did well. And some organizations seem determined to follow what not to do when facing a crisis. From the rich buffet of crisis communication disasters, US crisis expert Jonathan Bernstein shared with my agency Managing Outcomes his tongue-in-cheek 13 rules for ensuring your crisis will flourish and grow.

6. Crisis Communication Examples

Here are the best Crisis Communication Examples for Crisis communications, a specialization within the public relations profession that is utilized in responding to threats posed to the reputation of an individual, company or organization. There is a crisis communication case study for just about any crisis communication example imaginable. Before you find your organization in the middle of an all out crisis, it is advisable that you research relevant crisis communication case studies to prepare for an effective response. Proper and effective response to a crisis situation requires planning and forethought. Following are recent examples of crisis communication situations and how the response was handled. You will see where mistakes were made and where the situation was dealt with and how to reach a positive outcome.

Quote of the Week:

"If it's going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately."

-- Henry Kissinger

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