Crisis Management and Public Relations
06 October 2016

Crisis Management and Public Relations

In this world of instant media, we see situations play out daily on a local, national, and international level that call for well-planned crisis management and effective crisis communications. Whether an executive, celebrity, small business, or corporation, developing and following a comprehensive crisis plan and core crisis public relations principles can make the difference between a PR recovery or disaster.

What the public understands, it trusts.
What it trusts, it supports.

Public sentiment is everything.
With it, nothing can fail.
Without it, nothing can succeed.

-Abraham Lincoln

Have a written Crisis Management plan that everyone in the organization knows and understands.  Review this plan often, both personally and with your staff, and visualize its execution; rehearse certain scenarios if you deem necessary. Seek professional crisis PR assistance in devising, practicing, and executing this plan.

In the event of a crisis, the primary reaction and mindset should represent the “Five Cs”:

  • Control – Take control of the situation, property, etc..  The safety and welfare of your customers, employees, and others take precedence over everything else. Immediately activate your Crisis Management Plan.
  • Calm – Remain calm in your dealings with all involved parties, i.e., customers and their relatives, employees, emergency personnel, media.  Calmness is contagious.
  • Candid - Explain what happened to superiors, authorities, and media to the best of your knowledge.  If you don’t know, find out.  Do this quickly, accurately, and honestly.
  • Contrite - If you and/or your company were to blame, apologize and express your regret, saying that every effort will be made to see that this doesn’t happen again.
  • Compassionate - Be sorry for any loss, injuries, or inconveniences . . . and mean it when you say it.


  • The public expects and appreciates an apology...and the public is quick to forgive those who say genuinely, “I’m sorry.”
  • Don’t let costs interfere with doing what’s right.
  • Don’t prolong a crisis.  Get it over with and out of the news as quickly as possible.

When dealing with the media in crisis situations:

  • Communicate.
  • Identify the company spokesperson.
  • Cooperate.
  • Never release names of victims.
  • Never try to talk “off the record.”
  • Don’t make excuses or minimize the situation.
  • Don’t provide unnecessary or excess information.
  • Use language the media and public will understand.
  • Avoid answering “what if” questions.
  • Never lose your cool.
  • Never say “no comment.” Give your reason for not answering the question.
  • Be accurate, brief, and clear.
  • Don’t try to be funny.
  • Don’t pass the blame.
  • Always be honest!


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