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John Crean “Digital Era Demands New Rules for Crisis Management”

New RulesIt is no secret that social media and technology have changed the traditional practices of crisis management. For proof look no further than Charlie Sheen, Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, TransCanada or Lesley Robert over the last year.  They have all faced some type of crisis which has been covered extensively in the media and discussed at length via social media.  With the openness of social media they were each scrutinized by millions around the world over night, not quite the 15 minutes of fame others crave.  In the case of both Charlie Sheen and Rob Ford, their communications teams (or handlers) ended up quitting as the crisis was just too much to handle, and the jokes would crack anyone up.

Earlier this morning, John Crean, National Managing Partner at NATIONAL Public Relations led a seminar Crisis Communication: Not If, but When at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. Throughout his talk he discussed how to anticipate organizational crisis risk, prepare appropriate messaging and positioning, and responding appropriately to all stakeholders.

With a career of industry-leading crisis experience, Crean discussed how to anticipate organizational crisis risk, prepare appropriate messaging and positioning, and responding appropriately to all stakeholders.

“The new principles of crisis management can be counter-intuitive to the disciplined and business-savvy executive who puts a priority on full knowledge, thoughtful consideration of the options and who speaks only when they have something to say,” said John Crean. “Those who anticipate and plan in advance of a crisis will have the instincts and processes in place to make fast, smart decisions that will go a long way to saving your reputation and potentially your business.”

Crisis Communication: Not If, but When touched upon seven key principles to keep in mind when a crisis strikes:

  1. Act short term, think long term;
  2. The public interest is the company’s interest;
  3. Pay attention to social media but don’t be a slave to it;
  4. Transparency is your friend;
  5. Fast is the new good;
  6. When the company is at fault, apologize; and
  7. When the crisis is over, focus on reputation.

“Social media and technology have changed the game,” said Crean. “You have to act immediately, communicate on multiple channels to multiple audiences and defend your decisions in real time to the media, the public, customers and regulators.”

Speaking to a sold out crowd, John emphasized that a major crisis can be survived, but an organization only has one chance to get it right. If mishandled, a crisis can critically damage an organization’s reputation. If handled well, it can solidify an organization’s position in the mind of investors, customers and the general public.

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