Recommended reading in today’s NYT regarding crisis management. The article, “In Case of Emergency: What Not To Do”, reviews three recent huge imbroglios impacting Toyota, BP and Goldman Sachs and how they mishandled their crisis communications.
It’s a lengthy article but worth the read. A critical quotation by Howard Rubenstein (aka The Fixer) towards the end of the piece:
“These companies made the sames mistakes. They broke the cardinal rule of crisis management: They didn’t seem to have a crisis plan in hand. They sought to minimize the extent of their problems, and they never seemed to display an understanding for the situation they were in.”
A crisis is complex and paving the way for a common response from legal, regulatory, management, marketing and sales can be extremely tough…especially if not done in advance. In the heat of the moment, where response time counts, excessive caution may get in the way of saying what’s prudent and human to preserve your brand (and it’s corresponding contribution to stock value), retain customers, and maintain positives that will impact future purchase consideration and market entries.
Another relevant piece in the same section of the paper under the heading “Metrics”, “Three P.R. Nightmares” shows some interesting graphics related to brand health (Measured components of brand health: impression, quality, value, reputation, satisfaction and recommend) before and after Toyota, BP and Goldman Sachs’ crisis compared to top competitors. As you might anticipate, the crises has had an outsized impact on their brands’ health. However, with advanced preparation, that impact can be mitigated and potentially garner positives (Ex. J & J Tylenol recall in 1982).