B2B PR Insights

How we help logistics, tech, and fintech innovators achieve their B2B communication and public relations objectives, as well as a look at how our small business is working to achieve its sustainability goals by thinking big.

What’s the crisis? I’m not giving a statement.

Well, if you don’t give the statement, you’re obviously guilty.

You must know that feeling when your life flashes before your eyes?

You know, where that pit forms in your stomach and your breath gets shallow?

Right. Now imagine writing one of the most important statements of your career and of your employer’s legacy while feeling that way.

Feel a little bit sick now? If you do, you’ve come to the right place. If you don’t, you’ve got balls of steel.

Crisis communication is by far one of the most difficult parts of PR, if you’re not prepared.

Many examples of blunders from companies that have evidently found the technique a struggle are the subject of stories you read online. I won’t mention any brands to avoid upsetting anyone, *cough*, Thomas Cook, *cough*, Chevron. You can do your own research.

The trouble is, an initial crisis in itself is of course a story that needs to be reported, but the story of a company handling it poorly is going to receive much more traction.

Luckily, I recently underwent some training ran by the PRCA as part of the Meantime Training Academy to equip me for when I inevitably have the task of supporting one of my fantastic clients through their crisis communication.

Our teacher, Adrian Wheeler, took us through a day’s masterclass of everything you need to know about preparing for that initial crisis communication.

My headline takeaway, as is the same with most things when you get down to it, was that preparation is key to success.

By having a plan in place ahead of a crisis, when you’re inevitably slightly scrambled from the incident that has just occurred, you can rely on your plan to see you through the process successfully.

Your action plan or, “red book”, should include everything you’ll need when a crisis happens – statement templates including “best responses” for likely crisis scenarios, a summary of your company including your ethos and philosophy, a Q&A covering likely questions, resources you’ll need to communicate in each scenario and much more.

Your whole plan should span 40 – 60 pages and you should have this plan BACKED UP. I’m talking hard copy, USB, Intranet, if you can name it, there should be a copy saved there just in case.

How do I identify a possible crisis and who my target audience will be? I hear you say. That’s for another blog!

The other thing that gets lost a lot, but is key to a successful communication, is practise. You don’t want a camera-shy spokesperson trying to explain a fatal accident to a group of reporters (your spokesperson should be the CEO of the organisation 9 times out of 10 by the way).

There are so many elements that need to be considered when planning for a crisis. It takes time, thought and support.

Our teacher gave us an example that drove the “preparation is key” mantra home for me:

On the day of the Concorde disaster, the whole communications team was witness to the terrible incident. In a state of shock, as the calls from publications came in to find out what had happened, the communications team were frozen, unable to comment. This led to reporters contacting other companies for information, which you of course never want.

You should always tell your own story. That way nothing can be misunderstood.

Unfortunately, I can’t fit everything into my word count for today, but the last piece of advice I will give is that “no comment” means “guilty”.

So, if you don’t already have your crisis communication plan, what are you waiting for?

If this has made you decide to start planning but you don’t know where to begin, send us a note at hello@meantime.global, we’d love to help.

Thanks so much to our fantastic teacher Adrian Wheeler and the PRCA for the crisis communication training we recently did as part of the Meantime Training Academy.

About the author

Emma Murray

Emma was born in the year the Beatles broke up. She set up Meantime in 2008 after a 15 year career reporting on the supply chain and logistics industries. She is an NCTJ-trained reporter and an award-winning editor. She studied Middle Eastern Archaeology and Akkadian, although she has to admit her cuneiform is probably a little rusty these days. She was once an archaeologist working in Syria and Jordan, and has been an English language teacher. She has lived at one time or another in Jerusalem and Aleppo, as well as Paris and Brussels, where she went to school and learnt to speak French.