Crisis can happen to anyone

Two days ago we had a guest speaker specialized in crisis management. Her name is Lindsay Coulson and she is the Communication Director for Harrow Council. The main thing when thinking about this job is that you have to be prepared for any situation. It’s like living at the foot of a volcano. You don’t know if is going to erupt, when is going to erupt, but you sure know what are your next steps. Of course you can’t calculate everything, because a crisis is unpredictable, but you may sure have some things in mind. Judging by Ms. Council’s speech, I’m sure that Harrow Council can survive in case of any eruption.

But what kind of crisis is more likely to appear?

A research by Business Planning & Research International among senior executives from the Times Top 1,000 companies showed that these are the crisis more likely to happen:

-environmental pollution

-product defect

-unwanted takeover bid

-death of senior management member-sabotage

-kidnap of senior management member

-computer breakdown

-industrial dispute

-fraud

You don’t have to be an expert to realise that some of these situations will probably happen in every company. I am part of these people believing that any organisation is vulnerable to a crisis at some point. Many professionals will not admit


that their company can face a crisis because that means that it’s not well managed and their profession is not effective. I think underestimating the possibility of a crisis situation is one big mistake. I’m not saying you have to think that someday this is going to happen, but you have to take into consideration in order to be prepared.

Speaking of this kind of denial, when Nestle was attacked for selling infant formula in developing countries, where it was often mixed with contaminated water, the company’s belief in its own caring, nurturing image made it difficult for senior executives to accept criticism. You can never become better or change your negative parts without thinking that criticism is constructive. It can help you to improve and not make the same mistake for the second time. There was a prevailing belief that anyone who attacked Nestle must be a loony or a communist or even both. This is just one little bad example of handling a crisis in you company.

Sources:

Risk issues and crisis management in public relations. A casebook of best practice – Michael Regester Judy Larkin, CIPR, 4th ed. London/ Kogan Page 2008

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