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Crisis Communication & Issues Management

Toronto Crisis CommunicationsWhat to Do and Say When a Crisis Hits

In a crisis what you say is as important as what you do.  As the former head of communication for the world’s largest disaster relief agency and later for an organization conducting human vaccine trials, I’ve been on the front line of crisis planning and crisis response.

When a crisis strikes, the reputation of your organization is put to the test. It’s not the time for confused or mixed messages.  It’s the time for sound  judgement. Ill conceived remarks from Edward Burkhardt, the CEO of  Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railroad after the LacMegantic crash, made a bad situation worse.

Michael McCann, the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, was praised for swift action and transparency following a listeriosis outbreak that killed 20 people.  In contrast, Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP was criticized for downplaying the impact of the explosion that killed 11 workers and caused a massive spill of crude oil.  Maple Leaf Foods led with competence and humility, while BP presented an attitude that suggested “we’re too big to fail.”

To Manage a Crisis, Hire Judgement

A crisis can strike overseas or close to home. In the digital world, bad news gains traction quickly. Anyone with a blog  or a social media account can report on your organization at anytime. How would you respond?  What is your organization doing to assess and minimize risk each and every day?

In my experience, a crisis is an issue that wasn’t identified and managed in time. That’s when it pays to work with someone who understands how a breaking story is likely to play out with stakeholders – and in newsrooms.

Tracking and Evaluating Risks to Prevent a Crisis

As the manager responsible for issues management in high-risk organizations, I know who to track the most important conversations. This includes  policy makers, consumers, community and advocacy groups, as well as those in the media.

Along with strategic counsel, I help you set up communication protocols to track and evaluate risks. You will want to work with a consultant who knows how headlines are made—and  how to avoid them.

See my short Check List for Crisis Communication Managers.

Consulting fees are invoiced on a per-project basis, after a careful assessment of what’s required.