To begin, what is Crisis Communication? According to Wikipedia, it is a sub-speciality of the public relations profession that is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organisation facing a public challenge to its reputation.
In simpler terms, you could say that crisis communication is reversing reputational damage. A crisis can, and will, in most cases, hurt a brand’s image. Brand recognition and identity are two of the most valuable assets of an organisation. The main purpose of a crisis communication plan or team is to protect the brand and maintain the organisation’s standing and perception within the industry.
One of the best examples — from a political perspective — of crisis communication is Obamacare. The former United States President Barack Obama attempted to create America’s version of the National Health Service with the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA), or better known as Obamacare. When the website was launched, it had a lot of problems and weakened people’s confidence in this new act. Obama’s PR team sashayed in and got him to do a faux interview with comedic actor Zac Galifianakis in which he openly admitted to the initial problems, made it a fun interview, and assured people that the AHA would work for everyone. It reached a brand-new demographic of people and the website received a 40% increase in traffic with the turn-around crisis communication tactic.
In the next part, we will tackle the different phases of crisis communication and understand its functions.
Nasreen Syed is Senior Account Executive at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me