Tag Archives: credibility

Spin is Dead. Long Live Crisis PR.

I must heap praise on my colleagues at Ketchum’s Global Corporate Practice for their insights made available through the 2013 Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor.  Apparently, there are nearly 70,000 books available on leadership.  Yet, their work supplies much-needed data on the role of communications in leadership.

The Monitor covers much ground, but here I will stick to my knitting and probe its crisis management implications.


 KLCM:  Leaders are continuing to underperform on the very behaviors viewed as the most important to effective leadership – open, transparent communication, leading by example, admitting mistakes and handling controversial issues calmly.

J.D.:  In other words – spin doesn’t work.  As the findings suggest, good crisis PR usually applies a healthy dose of openness, leadership, humility and confidence.


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Two sets of keys for crisis communications

Bill SalvinFellow blogger and crisis manager, Bill Salvin, recently posted on three keys for crisis communications in the digital age.  The keys he shares are honesty, speed and images.

Here are excerpts from each key:

Honesty:  Let everyone on your team know that your integrity is the most valuable commodity you have in a crisis and it must not be compromised.

Speed:  The dynamics of a crisis can change based on external events. Once identified, empower your team to make the tactical decisions required to communicate events as they unfold.

Images:  People believe what they see over what they hear. You can have great talking points and a great spokesperson destroyed because the words are out of sync with the images coming from the scene.

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The bridge from nowhere

If you’ve been through a communications coaching or media training session, it’s likely you’ve heard the importance of this formula when asked a difficult question:

Answer  →  Bridge  →  Message

During coaching sessions I’ve conducted, I’ll often get asked “Is this what politicians do?”  My stock answer:  “Some adopt this formula.  Many do not answer the questions, however.  They simply bridge to their messages regardless of the questions.  And you shouldn’t do that.”

This week, Rep. Anthony Weiner provides a vivid example of why “bridging from nowhere” is not recommended:

The public is tiresome of these shenanigans.  It’s spin.  I suspect most news outlets will only take a representative seven-second clip from this.  Kudos for ABC News for showing the entire interview.  In doing so, the public can see how Weiner tries several times to completely avoid the questions, often using the same (weak) bridges. 

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Lessons from a Messy Diaper (Situation)

I have my reasons why I refrain from giving thumbs up/down opinions on specific crisis situations.  However, I try not to miss opportunities when current lessons can be applied to the profession of crisis management.  A recent Advertising Age article provides such a case, through its rare in-the-moment account of strategic planning and execution that takes place in a crisis “war room.”  Here’s a link to the article.

In this case, Procter & Gamble assembled a crisis team to help protect the Pampers brand of diapers when critics began to question whether its new Dry Max formulation was creating “chemical burns.” 

Although the situation is ongoing and a quick scan of the brand’s Facebook page suggests the situation is far from over, the article does provide insights to some very good crisis management practices:

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“Ask the Crisis Manager” Vol. 1, No. 1: Clear steps, disaster communications and social media in a crisis

I received a terrific first wave of questions for this feature — thanks to all for participating!  To maintain my post-brevity rule, I’ll post three answers at a time and queue up other questions in future editions.

Keep those questions coming by posting here, or through Twitter

Onward — to your questions….

Continue reading “Ask the Crisis Manager” Vol. 1, No. 1: Clear steps, disaster communications and social media in a crisis