Crisis hits, now what?

We've read with interest recent articles in the Newcastle Herald about a week of action by anti-coal protesters. Activities were aimed at shutting down coal chain and the largest coal export port in the world to demand drastic action on climate change. The protesters used a range of methods to disrupt operations of several business including being chained to rail tracks and coal machinery, blocking entrances to workplaces and accessing private property. Without making a judgement on the merits of such activities, how would you respond if this action was aimed at your business?

Journalists and photographers at press conference
Know what to do in a communication crisis
Group of people being interviewed

Crisis communication is not usually on the top of an organisation’s to do list, but would you be prepared in the case of an emergency, major injury or confronted by a targeted protest? Having a plan before an event is key for protecting an organisation’s reputation and making sure the response is adequate for the situation.

When faced with a crisis, there are few options for proactively managing the situation, it’s about being prepared in an environment with little certainty and sometimes without the facts. This means organisations are often under pressure to make decisions on the fly, so having a clear framework for dealing with a crisis and identifying someone to manage the situation before it happens, is a good starting point.

How does this differ from managing issues? Simply, issues management has the luxury of time. Time to fully assess and make the right decisions for each of the issues identified. A company that develops a strategy, clearly identifying potential issues, threats and business weaknesses can manage actions as part of business as usual. This process allows you to evaluate the options, putting in place the best ways of managing or mitigating the issues identified. Importantly, this can be part of normal business planning, reviewed regularly and updated when the situation changes.

How do you deal with issues or a crisis in your business? Do you have a crisis communication plan or strategy for dealing with issues? What would you do in an emergency?

The first step is to plan, plan, plan and plan some more before a potential crisis.  Developing a crisis communications plan is part of this. Clearly identifying potential scenarios, key messages, who is the spokesperson talking on behalf of the company and understand who says what and when.

Not sure where to start? Give one of our communication professionals a call for a free consultation to get you on track. Call 02 4965 4317 or email

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