Crisis Management: 5 things I’ve learnt

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OK, so there’s a slight story with this one, but I feel we’re entitled to bragging rights just this once.

Last night the UWE PR Society – which I’m VP of – joined forces with none other than the PRCA to host a simulation event at the Arnolfini.

And yes, I do mean that PRCA.

We’re incredibly proud that the event went so successfully and would like to thank Regional Coordinator Pippa Carson and simulation software creators Polpeo for making it all possible.

As the basis of the event surrounded Crisis and Reputation Management, it was of no surprise when the group was split into three teams and handed a fictional situation. Using nothing but the software and our collective brain power, the teams battled it out to manage the crisis most effectively.

While I wasn’t part of the winning team, Bristol can rest easy as all three teams managed the crisis in a positive light. Sometimes it’s not all about winning eh?

(Note to self: Definitely would not be saying that had we won)

So what did I manage to learn over the course of the evening? Well, quite a lot as it happens. Which is somewhat of a miracle given the amount of wine and beer consumed – We are in PR after all.

All joking aside, there are at least 5 things I learnt from last night and I thought it would be wise to share them all with you:

  1. Unless someone’s got it on film – it’s all speculation. Before an investigation takes place that is.
  2. Releasing a statement at the wrong time can make things much worse – confirming or commenting on an issue can sometimes draw more attention to it, be wary of releasing statements unless it becomes imperative or the situation is resolved
  3. Strong internal communications are key – at the time of a crisis, your employees and stakeholders can act like brand representatives and deflect any negative comments. Keep them informed, keep them media-trained if possible and keep them happy.
  4. Deleting the opinions of others does not delete the problem – something I learned first hand from last night was that deleting negative posts from your organisation or representative’s social media won’t solve the issue but will inflame it when people realise you’re trying to silence them. Respond to these people on their posts and minimise the situation by addressing their fears – do not feed them jargon.
  5. While ‘burying’ the problem with good news or directing attention to a pure source can buy you some time, you need to face the situation head-on to make sure it doesn’t come back to bite you in the long-term.

I’m really glad that I got the chance to take part in the simulation last night and it’s opened my eyes about Issues and Crisis Management – while extremely difficult to gague, it’s an exciting side to PR that I’d consider pursuing as a career one day.

For now though, I’m off to bury myself in uni work, third year eh?

Don’t forget to leave a comment or get in touch if you’ve got any thoughts.

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