Crisis Communications: What Every Business Leader Should Learn From the News of the World Scandal

When it comes to crisis communications, this is what every business leader should learn from the News of the World scandal. In this article we will examine leadership, communications and the media and how they all contributed to the final, disastrous outcome. By reading this article you will learn modern, effective crisis communications strategies for immediate adaptation to your company that will produce superior results in time of crisis or during emergency circumstances.

Leadership and Crisis Communications

Crisis Communications

The greatest failing throughout the sequence of the events is a failing of leadership. Leadership that failed to take good advice or that which sought counsel from likeminded executives who completely mis-read the situation and the potential impact upon the organization. Initial comments that praised senior executives, failed to acknowledged the presence of mounting concern and the hubris displayed by not engaging key stakeholders, all compounded the initial misdeeds.

The single-minded approach, reminiscent of the style used by executives during the Toyota vehicle recall and BP oil spill incidents, undermined any and all attempts to engage with authorities and affected communities.

Effective leadership in times of crisis is not centered on making flawless decisions in every instance but the exploration and trial of alternatives that produce superior results and support the strategic intent of mitigating or containing the issue in order to prevent further damage, loss or suffering. This was not present at any stage and any retro active attempts have been met with deserved skepticism and dismissed as insincere.

The timeliness and effectiveness of leadership remains highly dependent upon the selective identification and utilization of relevant communications channels to convey the intent, actions and sentiment of the company’s leadership. More details please højbylæ

Crisis Communications

Traditional and conventional media has been significantly diluted in terms of power and connectivity in recent years. Dominance in this area accounts for little in times of crisis.

Any concerns related to monopoly or control over such channels have proven to be unfounded given that the individual who supposedly controls the most significant allocation of this sector, failed completely to utilize their various media channels to any real benefit. Furthermore, ownership and control over distribution and possibly even content is useless if you don’t control or dominate all channels and opinion. It is ironic that the tool most feared by senior executives, the media, failed to support one of it’s own kings in time of crisis.

Crisis communications is about frequency, consistency and exposure. Communicating frequently about the issues, your intent and what your actions are to be will aide in the dilution of rumors, speculation and any falsehoods usually derived in the absence of facts. Consistency or honest acknowledgement of the circumstances stabilizes audience opinion and allows for effective monitoring of introduced variances to improve perception and penetration. Failure to do so invites any and all opinions to get airtime and gain in momentum in the absence of a consistent and transparent message. Getting to the widest possible audience, in particular your stakeholders, critics and supports through a structured exposure strategy is paramount in order to complete the plan.

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