“Ask the Crisis Manager” Feature

askWith this post, I’m launching a regular segment on this blog called “ask the crisis manager.”  Here, I will attempt to address any relevant question thrown my way.  Start sending me your questions through Twitter direct messages, or through the “Contact / Ask” form.   (I’ll also respond to “ask the communications coach” questions, if you’re so inclined.)

The main goal of this feature is to help readers gain insights on an experienced crisis management mindset — which is rooted in credibility, focus and imagination.  I also hope this feature will be an ongoing, stimulating experiment for me. 

I’ve already posted some blog rules, but here are two fictitious posts and reactions to better illustrate my response boundaries:

“J.D., how do you think Johnson & Johnson is handling its latest recall, compared to the original, iconic Tylenol recall from 1982?”

  • You can certainly ask a question like this — but I would not respond specifically on this company, their brand, or this crisis.  Why?  If I’m not working on it, it’s foolish to give an incomplete, uniformed opinion.  If I am, I would not betray confidentiality.  In this example, I would more likely respond with my general feelings on recalls, pharmaceutical responsibilities to the public, or the importance of clear risk communications.  Make sense? 

“J.D., I see that Ketchum may have attracted a bit of controversy over the weekend.  What’s your take on it?”

  • That question would need to be directed to Ketchum, not my personal blog/Web site.  This is one of those rare instances where I would probably ignore the question outright.

Okay, enough boundaries.  Now, go for it.  What’s on your mind?  Go ahead and ask a crisis manager (or communications coach).

2 thoughts on ““Ask the Crisis Manager” Feature”

  1. when a crisis hits, what are some of the steps that you should go through to help you think through the situation clearly? ( like an acronym like ROSTE or what have you.)

    1. Great question, Callie, because you've presented two questions in one — one on mindset, and one on organizing your approach.

      1) For mindset — when faced with a crisis, you need to bring three attributes to the table: credibility, focus and imagination.

      Credibility builders include such things as expressing empathy, being consistent in word and deed and maintaining a good level of authentic communications.

      Focus requires you to try to simplify the complex, and clearly define the threats to your business. You also have to execute your plan or team with a great deal of focus.

      Imagination requires foresight — what can make this situation worse? Imagination also helps you to tell your side of the story in a compelling way.

      2) To organize your approach, check out my post on "Desert-Island Crisis Tool." I think the simple grid that's attached is one of the best, simple tools you can use.

      – J.D.

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