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To understand what we do as professional media trainers we must first define the question:

"What is crisis management"

Crisis management is the way in which a business or organisation responds to a sudden and unexpected event that poses a threat to its existence. 

 

What are the characteristics of a crisis

We often see the following characteristics in most major crises

  • Common features of a Crisis
  • Unexpected event
  • Demand for information
  • Highly pressurised environment
  • Decisions are required quickly
  • Time frame is short

 

What types of crisis management are there?

Any situation that puts you in the full glare of the media spotlight really needs to be managed to get the most out of it positive or negative. However, in this case we refer to "crisis management" and therefore by nature it will be negative. There are many types of crisis management such as:

  • Technological e.g. data or security breach
  • Financial e.g. Poor performance leading to loss of profit/dividends
  • Deception e.g. Concealing a health and safety breach
  • Workplace e.g. the sacking of staff
  • Environmental crisis e.g. oil spills

 

Examples of Good global Crisis Management

 

  • Company: Cadbury's
  • What: Worm infested chocolate bars
  • When: 2003
  • Where: Mumbai, India
  • Response:

Media response was seen to be slow at first but once they stopped advertising they built up momentum informing the press every step:

  • Launched a PR educational piece aimed at retailers
  • Adopted safety measures and released updates to the press
  • Changed machinery
  • Changed packaging
  • Launched new campaign

 

  • Company: Toyota
  • What: Safety defects including jamming accelerator
  • When: 2010
  • Where: Worldwide
  • Response:

Toyota's initial reaction was seen to be quick through PR channels but slow from senior staff with no one seemingly willing to stand up and head up the crisis. However, Toyota's history of being one of the safest manufacturers helped their recovery.

  • PR teams sent out to communicate before solution
  • Recalled 8.8 million vehicles
  • No senior management visibility initially
  • Released ads communicating how they are fixing the issue
  • Executives eventually started communicating directly with the media
  • Redirected marketing activity toward safety

 

Examples of Poor global Crisis Management

  • Company: Cadbury's
  • What: Salmonella contaminated crumb used in produce
  • When: 2006
  • Where: UK
  • Response

Even though Cadbury's tested the crumb it was sent onward to be mixed for other chocolate bars before the test came back positive. More than 30 people became ill with the same rare strain of salmonella food poisoning. Cadbury's response was very slow and unhelpful given their somewhat delayed communication of the crisis to the FSA and were forced into action.

  • The Food Standards Agency was informed 6 months after the problem first occurred
  • The company was forced to recall 7 of its brands of chocolate
  • A Cadbury's spokesperson released a relatively defensive statement siting Cadbury's testing protocols were within legal framework

 

  • Company: Sony Pictures
  • What: North Korea Hacking in response to the film "The Interview"
  • When: 2015
  • Where: US
  • Response

Just before the release of the film "The Interview", where there is a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, Sony found itself under a cyber attack where private emails were released including those regarding film stars. This followed a security breach where PlayStation Online servers were brought down. Sony's reputation suffered as a result of poor decision making and reduced confidence in Sony's security competence.

  • Sony cancelled showing the film
  • Released statements citing fears of violence at premieres
  • US President, Barack Obama, criticised Sony's inability to stand up to such threats
  • The film was eventually released in independent cinemas

 

What Can we learn from these examples?

This is hugely dependent on context for example Toyota's response to it's safety defects was quick but there activities at trying to restore confidence were relatively ineffective as they hadn't found the cause of the defects. However, many of the crises that have been managed well do share similarities:

  • The speed of the response tends to be quick
  • Open dialogue through various channels of communication
  • Visibility of relevant senior staff
  • Honest and sincere approach to answering concerns

The ability to react quickly ad appropriately to a crisis largely relies on a persons/organisations prior planning. With crisis management training you will get exposure to simulated examples of what could happen including press outside the HQ, phone calls, TV interviews, press conferences and more. The learning that comes from this training is to identify the person who is best placed to head up communications, what channels they need to use, how they need to respond and what they should and shouldn't say. Only with this prior training can you ensure that the best is made out of a bad situation.

What is Crisis Management Training?

Crisis management training is the development of core competencies and methods of communication by trained journalists so that businesses or organisations may understand how to effectively manage the various media channels for the business or organisations benefit.

In short we make you think "what could happen" and we tell you how the media may respond and then we go through how you should respond. Broadcast Media Services Training will, for example, run through the following:

  1. Local radio and newspaper interest
  2. Public interest – responding to public enquiries via phone/email
  3. Internal communications - how the message is communicated internally
  4. National radio, TV and newspaper interest – dealing with unsolicited visits from the media
  5. Live Interviews on radio, TV and newspaper – how to conduct yourself in one-to-one interviews
  6. Press conferences – Dealing with journalist questions and putting the business case in the best light
  7. Responding to social media e.g. Twitter
  8. Responding to stakeholder in the media e.g. victims, families, emergency services & politicians

BMS create realistic scenarios that pressure tests your organisation looking for gaps that need to be bridged. Professional journalistic experience, professional TV and radio crews and latest technology like our very own Twitter emulation software help build this very realistic context.

 

Who is Crisis Management Training for?

Crisis management training is for any person, business or organisation that could be in the media spotlight and needs to know how to effectively manage that media attention. For example BMS have worked with large household brands within the leisure industry to CFO's in up and coming tech start-ups seeking investment. There really is no specific recipient of crisis management training. If you are considering this for yourself or your organisation give one of our team a call on 0115 955 3989 or contact us via our online form.

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