Crisis Communications: A problem, an issue, or a crisis?

11 August 2021 | 3 min read | News
Steph Brown
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Crisis Communications: A problem, an issue, or a crisis? 

No one knows when a crisis is going to strike, hence why it’s a crisis. It usually, but not always, sneaks up on you without much in the way of warning and it takes hard work, determination, and stamina to manage it.  

A lot of people ask us, can you stop a crisis from happening? Sadly, the answer is no. But can it be managed, and is it possible to put plans in place to stop it occurring again? Yes. 

What constitutes a crisis?  

Is a ‘crisis’ always an actual crisis though? This question’s always a sticky web because, unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer. While there’s no easy equation for deciding when it’s a crisis or just a niggle that will go away by itself, there are certain things you can, and should, look for (with the help of your PR company) to help your business take the best course of action.  

  • A problem: A situation that might happen a lot, perhaps on a weekly basis, that managers, senior teams, and colleagues will deal with a lot in their career. This will easily be solved and will have little to no effect on stakeholders.  
  • An issue: A less common situation which needs monitoring but isn’t going to immediately or rapidly destroy your brand’s reputation. Stakeholders aren’t going to come flooding in demanding answers and employees aren’t going to flee left, right and centre but, we do need to keep an eye on what’s going on and be ready to intervene if it doesn’t die a death organically. 
  • A crisis: Whatever’s happening needs your attention now or you risk losing everything you’ve built up in the blink of an eye.  

Who decides if a crisis is a crisis? 

PRs should be the first port of call to determine what level a situation should be labelled as, and this is because of our ‘outsider status’. While regularly working with you and keeping your best interests at heart, we can objectively see and say things which someone who emotionally entwined within a business may not.  

Reactions are, of course, subjective and what may be a huge deal for one company may be a feather in the wind for another, and that’s where an external perspective can be the make or break of a potential crisis.  

If a crisis is ignored or an issue is overinflated, the only option your business will be left with is damage limitation. And by this time, it may be too late to save many crucial relationships.