Crash Course on Crisis Communications

One of my favorite brand communication blogs that I’d like to share with you is Biz Growth Live:  Bringing Your Brand To Life. Krishna De is the owner/author of this blog and she regularly features great print and digital content for best practices in the marketing sphere.

But she also has an internet talk radio feature wherein she posts interviews with top marketing and communications experts – and I wanted to share the recent Crisis Communications radio show from January of this year that she conducted with Jim Walsh of Walsh Public Relations in Ireland.

Mr. Walsh was a contributing author to the recent book, “Crisis Communication: Practical PR Strategies for Reputation Management and Company Survival,” and the interview captures several essential, introductory points on navigating crises.  If you don’t have enough time to listen to the entire interview, I’ve compiled the points into a ‘cliff notes’ summary below for your use.

So, if you’re not already an expert in the area of crisis communications, make this high-points summary (here below) and interview your first stop!


1) As it pertains to brand management, the perception of your brand is very often the reality.  People judge the value of your brand based on their knowledge and experience of it.

2) Not all companies benefit from having an individual head up a company brand. For some of the large firms, the totality of the company has better brand value.

3) Unlike during the course of normal business, crisis dynamics have a very different personality and quickly devolve into an “us vs. them” situation. For that reason, crisis management should be treated as the process above and around crisis communications.  In other words, it’s important not to get caught up in specific phrasing and word choice deliberation to the detriment of operations during a crisis media maelstrom.

4) Every company should perform some crisis risk assessment – what’s likely or unlikely to happen, and then plan accordingly.  But keep it simple: one phone call, step-by-step task outlines and emphasize consistency.  Then put the prevention measures in place. No crisis response effort can surpass the benefit of having great prevention in place.

5) Establish a cross-functional team to head up crisis management and communications. The planning and implementation will benefit from having a full view of the organization’s needs and operations.

6) Avoid any communication vacuums with the media. Move fast and fill in all gaps, even if it’s just a real-time account of what’s happening (or what’s happened) to-date.  Otherwise, media will rush to fill in vacuums with speculation and and that can lead to potentially negative, uncontrolled perceptions of your brand.

7) Given the 24/7, 365-days-a-year aspect of online media, part of crisis communication should be delegated to watchdog, diligence activities. The first thing to do when brand reputation might be in question is to locate the source of the criticism, identify it, create an appropriate message and disseminate the message to your audience.


2 thoughts on “Crash Course on Crisis Communications

  1. Krishna De says:

    Carol – thank you so much for showcasing the interview and for summarising your key take ways from the conversation. I look forward to reading more of your articles in the months to come.

  2. JIm Walsh says:

    Carol. That is an excellent summary of key points from a very long interview. Thank you.

    Jim Walsh

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