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Blog post
January 18, 2023

The importance of responding to a crisis

During a crisis, how a leader responds and behaves can often determine the outcome. The first few hours after a crisis or event can be chaotic. It’s a time of high uncertainty and the response rate from your organisation can either help minimise damage or hinder your crisis recovery. This is where a stable leadership highlights the importance of crisis management.

Three key elements of crisis management response

When responding to crisis, the three key elements to have are: 

1. Speed

2. Accuracy

3. Consistency

Responding quickly and effectively enables your organisation to control the narrative around the incident. Having a strong communications team will ensure the key messages are appropriately communicated to your stakeholders in a simple and effective way

If there’s lack of clarity with the messaging, your organisation may come across as being purposefully confusing in order to hide information. So be sure to be succinct with your communications and message. Leaders of an organisation face unique challenges and during a crisis they require presenting their point of view to stakeholders quickly and accurately. 

In the instance of a high profile crisis, there are more potential opportunities for the leader or the spokespeople of your organisation to be present in the media. If this occurs, the spokesperson should ensure they are confident with their messaging and it’s consistent for the duration of the crisis. 

It is crucial that there is a calm and confident demeanour when communicating with stakeholders. This empathetic approach will ease tensions and shows a genuine drive to resolve the issue. If there is nervous energy or lack of eye contact in a media conference or interview it does not foster confidence and lacks authenticity.

The importance of managing a crisis

The initial period of a crisis is crucial for response time. Today, these hours are driven by social channels, where conversations are being had with inaccurate information and the wrong narrative being told. This is why a social-centric incident response plan is extremely important when a crisis hits. Otherwise, this could be used as an opportunity to attack your organisation.

Accuracy during a crisis is important. People want accurate information about the incident and how it may affect them. Due to the time pressure, there is a risk of inaccurate information. This could lead to your organisation to be seen as inconsistent. Having nominated spokespeople speak one message for the crisis is a way to maintain accuracy.

Delivering a consistent message is instrumental to maintaining control of the situation. A consistent message begins with separating truths from misinformation. Sharing the message internally, ensures members of your organisations can repeat the same message externally if required.

The importance of a crisis management strategy

We see all too often in times of crisis, organisations not having a crisis management strategy in place which causes a negative impact on their brand. High-profile leaders not being present when they should be and slow response time will lead to undesirable outcomes.

A crisis management strategy identifies and responds to potential risks and disasters. It also helps them develop a plan of action to address the situation quickly and effectively. 

In addition, a crisis management strategy can provide guidance on how to respond to inquiries from the public and media. Having a comprehensive crisis management strategy in place can help organisations minimize the potential impact of a crisis and ensure the safety of their employees, customers and stakeholders.

There are many things to consider when developing a crisis management strategy. From monitoring what the media says, to looking out what consumers are discussing in social media, or even contacting the right journalists, these factors will affect your strategy.

Find out how audience intelligence can help in your plans, you can read more about the 7 things to consider for your crisis management strategy here.

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[updated] In this crisis management blog series we have looked at different leadership profiles based on their media coverage. From disruptive leaders that charge ahead and promote themselves along with their brand, to corporate leaders who are hesitant to build this kind of profile and instead promote a company wide view. The leadership, crisis management landscape has changed a lot over the past 2-3 years. As the world comes to terms with a post-Covid world, the business sector is feeling the repercussions of those terms. Employees are choosing whether they want to work from home, work in the office or navigate a hybrid model. This changes how leaders communicate with and essentially lead their teams.

Work culture has evolved but have crisis management processes? Audiences hold your brand's story and purpose in their hands or rather their smart phones. How does crisis management operate amidst an open, ever-changing, always on environment? Authentic leadership in crisis management is key to ensuring the message is sincere and is aligned with company objectives.

How to understand your audience during a crisis

Isentia assembled a panel of communications experts and leaders to break-down how comms processes have changed during a crisis along with the implications of volatile social media platforms.

If a crisis happened today, are you comfortable your organisation has the right plan and the right people in place to respond swiftly and effectively to show authentic leadership?  Listen to our panelists!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoP1Nk45l4E

In our last blog we spoke about the importance of response time during a crisis, with a fast response time being favourable. The next part of our leadership blog series we delve into authenticity and how to leverage it during a crisis. We also further explore high profile leaders, as they carry out their leadership throughout a crisis.

High profile leaders have shown us how crucial presence and authenticity are to ensure actions and motivations are believed, and how these traits need to be nurtured outside of a crisis.

The authenticity of a leader

We know that responding quickly during a crisis is crucial, yet coming across as genuine in response to crisis is just as important. Communicating with authentic language shows a genuine kind of compassion that marks a true leader. In our latest Leadership Index: Leading through Crisis, we explore the authenticity of four high profile leaders and how the authenticity of their actions affect the outcomes of their crises.

There are three components an authentic leader should possess:  

Emotional authenticity

This includes ways to increase self-awareness as a leader through unbiased processing of strengths and weaknesses, cultivating compassion and transmitting it to others with humility.

Behavioural authenticity

This includes acting in accordance with personal principles while setting the tone of change whilst also staying in control. It’s important to thoughtfully choose words and behaviours to resonate with the affected audience.

Social authenticity

This includes building an organisation to be authentic with a kind and caring mentality as well as promoting an inclusive identity. A social community should change with the current landscape and achieve a uniform balance.

Leaders in crisis management today

Leaders are facing an enormous test of character. Understanding the risks from crises and subsequent actions can be the difference between surviving and succumbing to them. Authenticity is a quality that could differentiate a poor leader from a great one and provides the ability to turn around a crisis. 

Authentic leaders are self actualised individuals who are aware of their strengths, limitations, emotions and genuinely lead with their heart, not just their minds. Communicating in a direct manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy plus directness without empathy is cruel - especially in crises where lives are lost. 

Providing a calm, compassionate and strategic response to a crisis, portrays a genuine message and enables cohesiveness between those affected. A defensive and a disconnected message can lead to a narrative of evasiveness and create a struggle to gain trust and believability.

If you would like to learn more about these case studies or how we can assist with crisis management download a copy of our 3rd edition Leadership Index: Leading through Crisis.

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Blog
Authentic leadership in crisis management

In this crisis management blog series we have looked at different leadership profiles based on their media coverage. From disruptive leaders that charge ahead and promote themselves along with their brand, to corporate leaders who are hesitant to build this kind of profile and instead promote a company wide view.

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CRISIS
noun, plural cri·ses [krahy-seez] /ˈkraɪ siz/
a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.

It’s a topic hot on the lips of many, but if you’re a communications professional you know the power a crisis can hold to make or break a business, career or the 24-hour news cycle. Almost everyone has a story, and having been in the industry for over three decades we understand that communications professionals typically live at the centre of these experiences and can often influence or shape the outcome.

While Chatham House Rules applied, we recently held some exclusive crisis events in support of better crisis management and wanted to share some of the notes from our expert panel, for what can be the most defining moment as a professional.

  • Own it! Be authentic, honest and open with your stakeholders – both internally and externally.
  • If you’ve made a mistake, apologise – don’t make excuses. There’s nothing more damaging for your reputation than not acknowledging you’ve made a mistake. While it’s not great to fail, it’s even worse when you don’t fess up.
  • Know your organisation’s key risks and audit them regularly. It is impossible to ensure you’re prepared for a crisis if you aren’t aware and immersed in the finer details. Is your team ready to manage a serious consumer issue if it were to go viral on social?
  • Ensure you have operations and communications plans in place to deal with these risks – even better, have a dedicated crisis response team (and protocols in place) really to go when you need it most. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to contact people when the chaos has already begun.
  • Identify your key subject matter experts and spokespeople to represent your organisation and test and approve each of their potential key messages – why not consider running a simulation for your executive and communications teams to take it to the next level?
  • Have a plan in place to deal with (and respond to) national and international media interest, including 24-hour access to strategic communications counsel and traditional and social media monitoring. Set up a crisis plan with Isentia so you can urgently engage the team when you need us most.
  • Have a strategy or ‘reputation recovery program’ in place to restore and build on your organisation’s reputation after a crisis. Your business is going to need some quick wins, so make sure you’ve prepared some simple initiatives that can work to restore your stakeholder’s faith and sweeten the sour taste in people's mouths.

Dealing with a crisis is stressful at the best of times, but when you need the support to know what is being covered and where, we’re here to support you! For more information on how your organisation can be better prepared for a crisis, contact us now, or reach out to your Account Management team.

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Blog
Are you ready to deal with a crisis?

It’s a topic hot on the lips of many, but if you’re a communications professional you know the power a crisis can hold to make or break a business, career or the 24-hour news cycle.

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Measles cases are rapidly increasing in Hong Kong recently which arousing public concerns about measles infections.  More cases are expected to surface in Hong Kong, people are scrambling vaccines and fearing the outbreak of measles around the city. In this whitepaper, we will cover how measles outbreak would become a potential crisis in Hong Kong and how can crisis be predicted.

" ["post_title"]=> string(56) "Measles cases to hit Hong Kong, can crisis be predicted?" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(383) "Measles cases are rapidly increasing in Hong Kong recently which arousing public concerns about measles infections. More cases are expected to surface in Hong Kong, people are scrambling vaccines and fearing the outbreak of measles around the city. In this whitepaper, we will cover how measles outbreak would become a potential crisis in Hong Kong and how can crisis be predicted. " ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(54) "measles-cases-to-hit-hong-kong-can-crisis-be-predicted" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2019-06-26 10:12:51" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-06-26 10:12:51" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(35) "https://isentia.wpengine.com/?p=969" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" }
Whitepaper
Measles cases to hit Hong Kong, can crisis be predicted?

Measles cases are rapidly increasing in Hong Kong recently which arousing public concerns about measles infections. More cases are expected to surface in Hong Kong, people are scrambling vaccines and fearing the outbreak of measles around the city. In this whitepaper, we will cover how measles outbreak would become a potential crisis in Hong Kong and how can crisis be predicted.

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Scoot, a low-cost carrier

Scoot, a low-cost carrier that provides flights predominantly within Asia, faced seven major flight delays in the last few months of 2018

Technical issues caused 356 passengers on the affected flight to be stranded in Taipei for almost two days. Replacement parts had to be flown in from overseas, causing serious delays.

This whitepaper uses Scoot’s TR899 flight delay as a case study to explore media conversations surrounding the incident.

We discuss service recovery, crisis management, PR approaches, and how the lack of communication leads to potential consequences.

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Whitepaper
How media comes into play in times of crisis

Scoot, a low-cost carrier that provides flights predominantly within Asia, faced seven major flight delays in the last few months of 2018. Find out media conversations surrounding the incident, Scoot’s approach to service recovery, and sentiments towards their approach.

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