Risk Issues and Crisis Management in Public Relations – A Casebook of Best Practice

Authors: Michael Regester & Judy Larkin

In this book, the authors discuss risk management (although they only speak of risk issues) and crisis management as part of what they call ‘Issues management’ and that with an approach from the perspective of public relations. Here they give numerous examples in the form of case studies.

The book is divided into two parts: a section on the elaboration of issues management, which looks suspiciously like risk management, because it has many similar building blocks, and a second section on crisis management, emphasizing both the importance of the teams, as the communication aspects.

Issues management is working on the drafting of a procedure of issues management, in which a great deal of attention is paid to the components that the authors consider important. The whole is concluded with some overviews of concrete approaches in two existing organizations.

Concerning Crisis Management, it is the intention that you remember the following (not necessarily in this order and certainly not an exhaustive list):


  • Be the first to share, recognize first that there is a problem.
  • Rectify immediately any error that comes into the media.
  • Be complete, correct, honest, transparent and willing to communicate. Do not say things like ‘no comment’ and if nothing is known yet, then tell them you will not leave no stone unconverted untill is known how things work.
  • Provide a place to speak to the press. It’s best to work one-on-one for the television channels. The latter can take a lot of time and energy and therefore it can be interesting to have a single TV interview set up in consultation with all channels.
  • Start communicating immediately, even if you do not have any information yet.
  • Always discuss the following topics in the following order:

    • People
    • Environment and environs
    • Properties
    • Money

And always talk first about the facts, then emotions and then state a vision of what you will do or are doing about it. Prevent a void in communication.

  • Always make sure that your actions are in the spotlight, and that you are heard.
  • Avoid putting bad blood in the population.
  • Visit the disaster site.
  • Acknowledge fault when it is proven, not before. Refer to experts for the evidence and do not be tempted into endless defense talk.
  • Never speculate about what you do not know.
  • If the press does not pay attention to you, do not walk away, stay in the area but do not pull any attention to your organization. Do not be a ‘sitting target’.
  • Do not ignore any media source.
  • Be willing to pay ex-gratia.

All this is extensively upholstered with cases where it worked and where it did not work.

Key Risk Indicators

Authors: Ann Rodriguez and Viney Chadha

In the book, the authors discuss the entire set-up and implementation of a Key Risk Indicators framework that can be used as an integral part of the Risk Management Framework, as a tool that can be used to support decision making in day-to-day management.

In the first chapter, the authors explain the foundations of KRI: measuring is after all knowing. That is why you also need to know that there are different types of indicators. The book covers Key Risk Indicators, Key Performance Indicators and Key Control Indicators.

Very important is the common language, the Risk taxonomy, which the people in the organization must speak. This is important, amongst other things, for the recognition of deviations that may occur in the measurements and / or the interpretation thereof.

But one of the most important aspects is with regards to Risk management and KRI, is the culture of the organization. One of the possible aspects is how committed the employees are to achieving common objectives. Another aspect is how well the three lines of defense have been developed and how well they work together.

In a few short chapters, the importance of the Enterprise Risk Management and the ERM Framework are discussed. The Operational Risk Management is discussed afterwards in a very extensive chapter. The most important program elements according to the authors are: risk and control self-assessments, scenario analysis, business environment assessments, data of internal losses, data of external losses, issues management and ultimately: the KRI.

In chapters 7, 8 and 9 the authors discuss the preparation of a KRI Framework, the life cycle of the KRI program and the KRI Project that implements everything. Chapters 10 and 11 deal with the use of KRIs and how you report about them, and what you report to them, depending on whether they do other things with the numbers … (The board does not need the same figures as Senior Management, for example).

In chapter 12, the authors discuss a tool that can determine whether an indicator is a “Key” indicator.

The story ends with a series of Case studies. The classic, Union Carbide in Bhopal could not be ignored. In addition, the authors also provide a number of KRI that could have yielded an alternative outcome. Finally, a number of concluding thoughts tell us that KRI must evolve from an art to a science. This book contributes to this.