Crisis preparedness and handling
I’ve handled a multitude of ongoing issues and full-blown crises in my career, ranging from benzene contamination of drinks products to oil spills and from deliberate product tampering to ongoing attacks from interest and pressure groups.
My breadth of experience can benefit those wanting to put crisis handling procedures in place as well as those who require strategic advice and hands-on support during an incident or issue.
Please view the list below for more details.
The first stage in good crisis preparation is to understand the potential pitfalls. I’ve run risk assessments for a wide variety of businesses including health companies, food businesses and chemical companies, using a structured approach that not only helps to assess the risk, but put in place strategies for risk management.
Sensitive issues need careful handling, particularly when media attention is likely. I work with organisations to develop clear ‘positions’ on the major issues identified during a risk assessment, for example, in order that an organisation can clearly communicate its strategy internally and externally.
A well-prepared company will be able to deal with issues quickly and efficiently, and therefore gain control of any issue in its early stages. A major part of any good crisis plan is effective communications, and by planning actions and materials in advance, valuable time can be saved and control can be gained.
I work with organisations to prepare materials in advance, such as detailed crisis plans, holding statements on major issues and Q&As on various topics, all of which can created as tools for a crisis team.
Identifying 'friends and foes' is a vital part of any crisis preparedness programme, particularly if an organisation operates in sensitive areas.
I work with businesses to identify key influencers, within and outside of the company, and to develop plans to manage communication and dialogue with them, either in advance of an issue occurring (on sensitive subjects such as a planning application or change to supply, for example), or during an incident when a variety of people need to be reached quickly with appropriate messages.
Basic media relations
This course is appropriate for those new to media relations. It provides advice on how to identify relevant media outlets, how to introduce an organisation to them, how the different media types operate and how to grab their attention with copy or pictures.
Press office support
Dealing with the media when a major issue or crisis hits can be time intensive and incredibly pressurised. I’ve acted as a press officer on a range of incidents, including chemical leaks, health issues and during ongoing issues where an organisation is trying to put its side of the story during an ongoing campaign.
An outside perspective can be incredibly helpful when facing a crisis. I’ve worked with many crisis teams and guided them towards a strategy, using a calm, measured and efficient approach that helps a team gain control from the outside.
Employees can act as an organisation’s greatest ambassador or weakest link in a crisis situation - one of the keys to achieving the former is fast and effective internal communications. It’s an area too often forgotten by pressurised crisis teams who are trying to deal with a host of issues and liaise with a wide range of people – I can take the pressure off by developing internal communications strategies and by implementing tactics where required, either as support to an existing team or on my own.
Trying to establish who needs to be contacted in the event of a crisis often needs lateral thinking, and an external view can help. I’ll work with teams to help them consider all aspects and all audiences, work to develop outreach strategies and assist tactically where required with development of messages, materials and liaison where appropriate.
Crisis media training
However well prepared a spokesperson is, it’s vital that in the event of a crisis they are thoroughly rehearsed in specific key messages. Such training needs to be immediate, needs to be tailored and must be realistic – I can offer all those, as well as a devil’s advocate role that ensures all angles are covered.