Tag Archives: risk communication

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.


Continue reading Spin is Dead. Long Live Crisis PR.

3 Categories of Social Media Risk

Are there particular industries or companies that attract a larger portion of “social media risk” than others?

A colleague of mine recently asked that question and I thought I would share a version of my response.

Rather than focus on vertical industries or specific brands/companies, it might be more instructive to look at three different categories of the types of anger or scrutiny that can snowball when pushed downhill by digitally networked communities. Here are three that I see regularly:

Continue reading 3 Categories of Social Media Risk

Deepwater Horizon: The Video (poll)

All crisis management pros and enthusiasts should take the time to watch the 20 minute video by BP, entitled BP:  A Year of Change

Regardless of whether the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico turned you into a BP detractor, supporter or somewhere in-between, the video will likely spur some opinions, questions and debate.  Was producing this video a wise move by BP?  Does it put the crisis – and the crisis response – into context?  Does it misrepresent any of the events or actions?

I have offered my opinions on the Deepwater Horizon situation in the past and I certainly have my opinions on this video.  However, I’m more interested in generating dialogue and debate through this blog post. 

Please take the poll and use the comments section below to share your thoughts after watching the video.



More Peter Sandman analysis on Japan radiation threat communications

After my March 16 post on risk communications related to the Japan radiation threats, I decided to continue the dialogue with Peter.  We traded some emails last Wednesday, which I thought I’d summarize here (edited for brevity/clarity):


 Three interesting articles to share: 

 Side note – years ago, I analyzed the Union and found it to be more aligned with political leanings than scientific.  I wonder if that’s still the case.

 – J.D.

Here is an edited summary of Peter’s insightful responses:

Continue reading More Peter Sandman analysis on Japan radiation threat communications

Japan’s radiation threat: Sandman’s risk communications analysis

Source: AP

The nuclear radiation risk in Japan seems to be growing by the day (by the hour?). 

How does one attempt to put context on that risk? 

On March 14, in that moment in time, The Wall Street Journal opinion page (sub. required) attempted to do just that through the voice of William Tucker, an expert on (and proponent of) nuclear power.

Key quotes:

Even while thousands of people are reported dead or missing, whole neighborhoods lie in ruins, and gas and oil fires rage out of control, press coverage of the Japanese earthquake has quickly settled on the troubles at two nuclear reactors as the center of the catastrophe….


The core of a nuclear reactor operates at about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the temperature of a coal furnace and only slightly hotter than a kitchen oven…. You can’t have a “runaway reactor,” nor can a reactor explode like a nuclear bomb. A commercial reactor is to a bomb what Vaseline is to napalm….


There was a small release of radioactive steam at Three Mile Island in 1979, and there have also been a few releases at Fukushima Daiichi. These produce radiation at about the level of one dental X-ray in the immediate vicinity and quickly dissipate….


If a meltdown does occur in Japan, it will be a disaster for the Tokyo Electric Power Company but not for the general public. Whatever steam releases occur will have a negligible impact. Researchers have spent 30 years trying to find health effects from the steam releases at Three Mile Island and have come up with nothing. With all the death, devastation and disease now threatening tens of thousands in Japan, it is trivializing and almost obscene to spend so much time worrying about damage to a nuclear reactor.


Source: NTV

I want to believe Tucker, as I’m sure many others do.  But there’s something amiss with his overabundant “calm context.”  Something about the way he’s presented his case….

For guidance, I emailed the Tucker article to risk-communications guru Peter Sandman.   Peter graciously shared his insights with me – and then with all of his followers through a guestbook post (with my permission, post-haste). 

I encourage you to read Peter’s full response through the link above.  I’ve have Peter’s permission to cross-post some highlights here:

Continue reading Japan’s radiation threat: Sandman’s risk communications analysis