We usually think of a crisis as something big and physical. A specific event that is an immediate and obvious issue. But that’s not always the case. Crisis communication often arises from small but mismanaged issues such as media interviews.
“Well, as long as I don’t say anything stupid, I should be okay,” is a sentiment we hear regularly. But recently, we learned of a very well-spoken individual who got herself into some hot water over discrepancy with the media.
A crisis communication case:
Through a partnership with a local City, an industrial company is building a potentially odorous plant close to a residential area. The City Representative was well versed in the plant’s facts and figures, so when regional media called, she was confident she could handle this.
During the interview, the City Representative, although unbeknownst, gave different facts than were on the Corporate website for things like the amount of waste to be stored, storage capacity, odour measurement, budget and start date.
The regional paper published an article calling out both the City and the Company and indicating at best, they didn’t have good answers to tough questions, and at worst, they were hiding pertinent information.
The effect was swift and devastating. Community members previously unworried about the project formed a citizen group desiring to stop the project, the City and the Province paused on the project’s development, and the Company fell further behind its project start and faced budget overages.
If the Company and the City had taken the time to agree on messaging, practiced working with the media and been more careful about published information, this could very well have been avoided.
All highlighting — if you don’t get things right the first time, you could very well have a crisis on your hands.
I do not want this to happen to you. Issues management planning is a passion of mine. Further, PR Associates offers customized media training that regularly scores greater than 95% satisfaction with our clients. Call me and we can ensure your issues don’t turn into a crisis.
Megan Helmer, Vice President of PR Associates, a PR firm based in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa