TOW 9: Crisis Communication

29/10/2010 § Leave a comment

Today in class we had an opportunity to do a live skype chat with Kathy Lovin, for you Twitter feigns @lovinkat, who is head of PR for Salvation Army. She discussed how to handle a crisis within your organization and ways to try stop a crisis from even beginning. Personally, I found this skype session to really enlightening. I’ve always wondered how a crisis is handled or diverted. For me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a PR crisis, I go straight for celebrity scandals. I’m sure this is because I am infatuated with entertainment and being a publicist for a celebrity would probably be the ultimate dream job, but I never once thought of a company or organisation experiencing a crisis. Not that I didn’t think they had any, but I just never thought about how they dealt with them.

To be honest, after hearing Kathy Lovin (you really have to say her whole name it is just so adorable) speak today, I found that celebrity crisis management and corporate crisis management weren’t really different. When a organisation experiences a crisis, using holding statements and using social networks as a means of resolving the crisis are key. This is very similar to what celebrities have to do when they go through a crisis as well. Now until Kathy Lovin spoke today, I didn’t really know what a holding statement was. A holding statement is a generic statement that you tell the public as a means of assuring them you are on top of the situation. Celebrities use this all the time, or at least their publicists do. Maybe they are something like ” I’m sorry and I’m admitting myself into rehab.” Okay, that one was a bit of a joke, but the concept is there.  The public needs to be assured that everything is under control and a holding statement takes care of that.

Another thing that was interesting is the idea of a vulnerability audit. This is something that you can do when you enter into an organisation or company and it gives you the opportunity to access the weaknesses and then when a crisis does strike you aren’t blindsided and have already mapped out a plan of how to handle the situation. Avoiding a crisis by monitoring rumours and news in the community, can also be a great tool when starting a PR job. Being prepared is really key.

Kathy Lovin presented some amazing points for us students to soak in and put into practise when we get our first PR job. I appreciated her speaking to the class and really benefitted from the things that she said.

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