Crisis- PR’s Worst Nightmare

Well, for most of us PR professionals I am sure you can relate to the above heading. Crisis can be as dramatic as that headline. The unexpected will always happen. The balance between credibility and acting with speed to avoid speculation from your audiences is the intricate balance that theories, books, lectures cannot teach us. It requires personal experience where we burn our fingers and learn or dive into the deep end and emerge a hero.


Brad Phillips clearly outlines that crisis has moved beyond traditional forms and we are relying more on digital platforms for our hunger for news, customer service, relationships and the desire for fame.

“You need to be prepared for today’s media culture, in which a tweet can become newsworthy and a news interview can become tweet-worthy.” – Brad Phillips of Phillips Media Relations

However, a holding statement is a critical communique that the communications team must churn out fast. What does it cover? Well, 5W, 1H is our daily bread- Who, What, Why, When, Where and How.

The holding statement should at least cover the following:

  • The date should always be indicated
  • Always have a well thought through factual headline
  • Only outline confirmed and true details to avoid opening another pandora box
  • Assure the audience with actions that your organisation is taking to mitigate the risks
  • Always employ empathy. Humans speak to humans- heart to heart
  • Avoid blame game or speculative kind of information
  • Do not respond to unsubstantiated rumours
  • Avoid names of victims of death if any
  • Contact details of the PR person/ spokesperson of the firm

Well looks simple, however, this is a simple guide. The pressure that comes with a crisis is not as straightforward as above. However, at least you have the guide.

All the best. Remember, every crisis is a learning point…it is how you handle yourself as a professional that will give you space at the table.


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