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.

Manu Steens

Manu works at the Flemish Government in risk management and Business Continuity Management. On this website, he shares his own opinions regarding these and related fields. Since 2012, he has been working at the Crisis Centre of the Flemish Government (CCVO), where he has progressed in BCM, risk management, and crisis management. Since August 2021, he has been a knowledge worker for the CCVO. As of January 2024, he works at the Department of Chancellery and Foreign Affairs of the Flemish Government. Here, he combines BCM, risk management, and crisis management to create a tailored form of resilience management to meet the needs of the Flemish Government.

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