Who Are You Gonna Call When A Crisis Hits?

David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

It cannot be stressed enough that any good public relations strategy should include a crisis communications plan. Too often brands and companies overlook this and when a disaster strikes, they are caught unprepared. One aspect of a crisis communications plan is determining who should be called in and consulted when the crisis hits and a response is needed.

So to paraphrase the movie, Ghostbusters, ‘who are you gonna call’ when a crisis strikes?

1. The CEO/President – As Harry Truman famously said, “the buck stops here”, and that is particularly true during a crisis. The CEO/President is the public face of the company during a crisis. They set the public tone for the organization.
2. General Counsel/Organization Attorney – A crisis often involves a legal issue. Any response during the crisis could have legal implications. A lawyer is essential to review and answer these questions.
3. Company Communications Officer – This is the internal communications specialist who knows the company’s brand story and values. This person will work to ensure the company response corresponds with them and includes both internal and external audiences.
4. Human Resources Officer – A crisis affects an organization’s employees. This person helps make sure that proper information is relayed to employees during the crisis and helps address any misinformation and concerns among employees.
5. Social Media Officer – A major mistake many companies make during a crisis is forgetting to have a response on social media and to monitor social media. This person ensures that the social media response is consistent with the traditional media response.
6. Outside Public Relations – This is an outside public relations professional who brings an outside and objective perspective to the crisis.

Identifying all the key players needed within the organization is essential for a cohesive crisis communications response when disaster strikes. Far too often, organizations waste precious time during a crisis in identifying what personnel are needed for the crisis.


About the Author: David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations. Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at StrategicVision.biz


1 Comment

  1. Ronald N. Levy on July 10, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    This excellent advice is from an excellent source and the wisdom may be even more excellent with two additions.

    1. Who is “called and consulted” should be decided now before the crisis hits and should include the chief operating officer, chief of engineering or production (who may understand important physical realities better than the other manager types,) and the director of information technology who can be like an in-house gumshoe protecting employees, customers, suppliers and others.

    2. The crisis committee should think in advance about the common cause of crisis–an accusation that the organization has (a) endangered the public as by product safety flaws or pollution, or (b) was unfair to the public as by “greedy” pricing, exporting jobs or discrimination. Each member of the committee should have a “corporate resume” showing how just the opposite is true, how the organization has been PROTECTING the public against dangers. There should be a “ready for crisis” file of facts, figures. photos, tapes, letters from heads of good causes, and speeches–all of it already cleared by legal–so corporate spokepeople can make a prompt, factual response that is well documented with information that has been cleared.

    The time to succeed against a crisis when possible is now before the crisis. The informationally well-entrenched are not only ore likely to succeed but less likely to be attacked because even self-appointed “watchdogs” can sense who not to bite.