Softer skills to deflate a heavy-handed crisis

The article on crisis management (MW September 1) focused on how to control a crisis once it has happenedand did not place enough emphasis on how to turn the situation to your advantage. Whatever the crisis, you need to own it from the start. It’s rare that you can change negative opinion, but you can contain it. By tracking market issues, you can become part of the debate early and hopefully defuse it. As public interest builds, you can have an impact on the evolution of an issue.

The article also didn’t touch on the important aspect of the softer skills needed in a crisis. A heavy-handed response won’t buy friends, which you need in a crisis. Understand what motivates the aggrieved and respond empathetically, answering all their concerns. Keep responses simple so there is no chance of misinterpretation. Don’t dilute your point by losing focus – keep to no more than three key messages to ensure your position is communicated correctly by the media and understood by your market.

Your PR team should be there to defend a crisis, not cause it! As well as being organised and having plans and protocols in place, it’s often the softer skills that make the difference between containing a crisis or snowballing into disaster.

Melanie Kanarek

Managing director

Berkeley PR

Three Mile Cross

Berkshire

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