Tiger Woods is a good example of someone who handled crisis very poorly (image taken from Google Images)

Crises, when they occur, can make or break an organization. How the organization handles a certain crisis can have an extreme influence on how they are viewed by the public. Crises happen all the time, we hear about them happening to companies on the news all the time. I can look back and think of countless organizations that have undergone a crisis that changed their image permanently. Some companies have handled crisis amazingly, and bounced back with poise. Other’s have handled it completely wrong, and those companies have suffered greatly from their mistakes and lapses of judgment. Crises are an extremely important part of public relations, important enough there are crisis teams that specialize in crisis management and assisting companies in the preparation for a potential crisis.

It seems to me that most organizations or individuals go wrong in their methods of communicating during a crisis. What is said/not said during a crisis is everything. Traditionally, we think legally when it comes to communicating, that anything we say can and will be used against us. A lawyer would tell us just to keep our mouths shut for as long as possible, because no one can speculate about unspoken words, right? Wrong. This is not the case when it comes to crisis management in public relations. Sietel notes that 65 percent of people, when they hear the words “no comment”, automatically regard the no-commenter as guilty. “Silence angers the media and compounds the problem.” (Sietel, p. 390). The cardinal rule held by most public relations professionals for communication during a crisis, Sietel notes, is “tell it all and tell it fast”.

Communication that seems honest and up front (whether or not it really is), and is given right off the bat, puts a stop to speculation and the spreading of rumors. Attempts to cover up the truth and save face almost always end badly; just ask BP and Tiger Woods how that worked out for them. The chapter lays out three basic goals is crisis management: terminate the crisis quickly, limit the damage, and restore credibility. credibility. It may not always be an easy fix, but complete honesty always is the best policy.