Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chapter19: Crisis Management

I. Issues Management
The term issues management was coined in 1976 by public relations counsellor W.Howard Chase, who defined it this way:
Issues management is the capacity to understand, mobilize, coordinate, and direct all strategic and policy planning functions, and all public affairs/public relations skills, toward achievement of one objective: meaningful participation in creation of public policy that affects personal and institutional destiny.

Issues management is a five-step process that:
1. Identifies issues with which the organization must be concerned,
2. Analyzes and delimits each issue with respect to its impact on constituent publics,
3. Displays the various strategic options available to the organization,
4. Implements an action program to communicate the organization’s views and to influence perception on the issue,
5. Evaluates its program in terms of reaching organizational goals.

In specific terms, issues management encompasses the following elements:
 Anticipate emerging issues
 Identify issue selectively
 Deal with opportunities and vulnerabilities
 Plan from the outside in
 Bottom-line orientation
 Action timetable
 Dealing from the top

II. Emergence of Risk communication:
Risk communication began as a process of taking scientific data related to health and environmental hazards and presenting them to a lay audience in a manner that is both understandable and meaningful.
Seven steps are helpful in planning a risk communication program:
1. Recognize risk communication
2. Encourage management to join the “communication loop”
3. Develop credible outside experts
4. Approach the news media
5. Research perceptions
6. Understand your target audience

III. Managing in a Crisis
As any organization unfortunate enough to experience a crisis recognizes, when the crisis strikes, seven instant warning signs invariably appear:
1. Surprise
2. Insufficient information
3. Escalating events
4. Loss of control
5. Increases outside scrutiny
6. Siege mentality
7. Panic

IV. Planning in a Crisis
The key to crisis management is being prepared.
Heightened preparedness is always in order, with four planning issues paramount:
 First, for each potentially impacted audience, define the risk.
 Second, fro each risk defined, describe the actions that mitigate the risk.
 Third, identify that cause of the risk.
 Fourth, demonstrate responsible management action
Simple but appropriate watchwords for any crisis plan are the following:
 Be prepared
 Be available
 Be credible
 Act appropriately
V. Communicating in a Crisis
The key communications principle in dealing with a crisis is not to calm up
when disasters strikes. Lawyers traditionally have advised clients to either
(1)say nothing, (2)say as little as possible and release it as quietly as possible,
(3) say as little as possible, citing privacy laws, company, or sensitivity, (4)
deny guilt and act indignant that such categories could possibly have been
made, or (5) shift or, if necessary, share the blame with others.
VI. Engaging the Media
Handling the media is the most critical element in crisis. Dealing with the media in crisis demands certain “battle-field rules”; among them:
 Set up media headquarters
 Establish media rules
 Media live for the “box score”
 Don’t speculate
 Feed the beast
 Speed triumphs
 Cable Rules

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