Crisis communication is a sub-specialty of the public relations profession. Word ‘crisis’ is an unpopular word, and that is because an average person has bad feeling about it every time it is mentioned. However, although meaning is the same when it comes to communication, crisis is not something that is going to discourage PR experts. In their eyes it is often understood as a challenge.
Dominant motivation is the fact that nowadays professional who specializes in crisis communication is the most wanted one marketwise, and therefore salary may be quite tempting. Crisis communication is not hard to define. It has a purpose to protect reputation of an individual or organization, whenever it is endangered. Reputation itself presents pretty fragile thing. It can be built for years, and yet destroyed in the blink of an eye. When it comes to PR, basic goal is to maintain client’s positive public image. In order to achieve it, every PR strategy has to incorporate steps regarding worst-case scenario.
For politician, it can be some unexpected scandal. Remember Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. An airline company is operating with constant fear of plane crashes and human casualties. The first rule of crisis communication is that there are no universal rules. Every crisis has its own agenda. Theoretical framework may be helpful, but it is not crucial. Professional experience is more important. One thing that is for sure is that simply ‘doing nothing’ (with hope that problem will resolve itself) is often fatal communication strategy. In an Internet era, with almost immediate public feedback, disappearance is not an option.
Therefore, the reaction has to be quick. It is almost never wrong to say that you are sorry because something bad happened. Also, techniques that include moderate regret because of your own mistakes prove to be successful. However, famous saying is that ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. So the essential thing is to develop a preventive plan that will include communication rules that can be helpful when ‘time is off the essence’.