How well would your organisation communicate in a crisis?

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How well would your organisation communicate in a crisis?

Neil ChapmanMy colleague Neil Chapman of WPNT (pictured) has been talking about what’s needed for an organisation to communicate effectively in a crisis – and in his view, crisis plans need to be practiced regularly.

Crisis handling doesn’t mean solely focusing on the media, either – getting it right involves communicating with a range of different stakeholders, depending on what’s happening.

Neil was talking to Russell Goldsmith in a podcast recorded at this week’s PR Week Crisis Communications Conference, when the conversation turned to STORM, WPNT’s smart online crisis simulator. His part of the programme starts at around 26 minutes into the podcast.

We use STORM with a variety of major clients to test their teams and how they perform, allowing their frontline communicators to go through an authentic crisis tailored to their business. As part of the exercise they see how their decisions and what they say is reflected in the outside world – all in a closed private setting.

“What we try to do is break things down to different skills, such as organisational planning, management of the volume of incoming calls, and how statements are managed, and we coach people on them” said Neil.

“Any organisation should understand what good looks like, what’s an effective response from their point of view. In order to be effective, it’s a set of skills they need and they need to practice them” he added.

STORM screen grabSTORM brings real-time digital and social media updates into the training room to enhance WPNT’s  integrated communications training curriculum – and STORM can also support crisis sessions or practice drills you may be planning.

STORM is hosted on a private, secure site and enables inputs in real-time — a holding statement, an on-camera interview, public comments — as the training scenario develops and participants react to events. Manned by a remote, external team, it provides a concise view of how the world would react to a crisis, including simulations of Facebook, Twitter , Instagram and other social media platforms, and updating public comments on an on-line news page. For additional realism we are able to input in different languages.

Find out more about STORM here or contact us to arrange a demonstration.


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United Airlines have managed to turn a PR crisis into a total disaster – for the moment at least

This week the title the World’s Least Favourite Airline must surely go – by a couple of million air miles – to United Airlines of the US.

UA smlThe debacle where a passenger was forcibly dragged from a plane by three officials (one of whom was later suspended) couldn’t get any worse, you’d think until the CEO kicked another own goal with the way he handled media coverage.

Yet history proves that airline companies seem to be able to literally fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to this kind of PR disaster – Ryanair has had many yet continues to do business, and United has had its fair share  – remember Musician Dave Carroll who wrote three catchy songs to share his account in 2008 during a trip on a United Airlines flight that resulted in a broken guitar , all viral hits on YouTube.

CNN’s analysis tells the story, and reading it one has to marvel at the kind of PR advice both the company and CEO Oscar Munoz have been getting.

The sheer lack of sympathy in Munoz’s first statement speaks volumes about how his airlines really regards its passengers (the line apologising for having to re-accommodate these customers manages to neatly sidestep humanity in favour of corporate-speak) and one would hope a lot of reputation-building work will now be needed to get UA back to where it was.

Sadly,  their strategy will probably just be to wait for the fuss to die down, knowing that as long as they are in the marketplace people will buy seats on their planes at the right price even though the chances of flying are much less than 100 per cent.


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