Crisis Communications Playbook

Crisis Communications Playbook

What do you do when you discover one of your employees has behaved inappropriately?
How do you respond when people challenge your business practices on social media?
What do you do when you get a customer complaint?
The list could go on.

Using experience and nous to assess and respond to live issues, based on the specific set of circumstances is absolutely the way to go in an emerging crisis.

Recently however, clients have asked us to compile a “playbook” of responses for the most frequent and reputationally damaging issues, after we’ve completed a reputational risk audit of their competitors and the wider sector.

A playbook is more than collating your “lines to take” or communications responses. Done well, this live document should become part of the Communications Team’s armoury with which you can effectively respond to issues as they develop. The playbook provides important insight such as :

  • stakeholders, reactions and patterns in their responses
  • social media activity including trends, keywords used and priority channels
  • topics which cause the most activity
  • duration of interest
  • key journalists
  • as well as the existing communications to help build a response

All too often the post-crisis sands of time slip away and soon the next issue is upon you. Taking time to stop and reflect on how you responded and what you can learn should be part of the ‘playbook’.

By taking a quick and thorough sweep of actions post-issue you will assess; did we get our message out there or are we just repeating the same old tired platitudes which don’t cut it with our customers / stakeholders.

Questions to ask post-event are:

  • did our last response achieve our objective
  • are our response times working
  • are the comms consistent with commitments made in the past
  • is now the time to review our corporate key messages to make them better reflect our current reality and after effects of an issue

Your playbook is the bible you refer to so the next time you’re challenged about the business, you approach it kitted up with knowledge from previous experiences as well as a starting form of words to use in response.

Background image by Joanna Kosinska , book composition by Studio JERO

Perspectives from the President’s War Room

“I did need to make sure that they knew who was in charge… teams function better when the leader asserts himself. And I wanted them to know that we needed a plan to deal with it and that everybody had a role to play.”

A candid comment from the former US President giving a rare window into decision making and leadership during an exceptional moment in modern history. Over 90 minutes, the documentary 9/11 Inside The President’s War Room scrutinised the 24 hours after the terrorist attacks on New York’s Twin Towers which claimed thousands of lives, impacting across the world in ways we are still discovering today. The programme featured interviews with the then President, his accompanying entourage that day and decision makers elsewhere, inside a bunker below the White House.

In bringing together these perspectives, it helped join the dots between the multiple ripple effects of this crisis.

  • The nature of leadership, or as one presidential aide put it “You are who you are. Whatever you’ve got in you will come out in a moment of crisis.”
  • The importance of working technology, including a good TV, which was incredulously lacking in Air Force One, making them reliant on patchy signals as they flew over major cities, to get rolling TV news updates from the ground.
  • The exposure to misinformation and miscommunication, such as a caller warning about a threat to Air Force One, who was in fact misreported by the person on the other end of phone. “The amount of information that is wrong, when you are in a moment of crisis, the filters are down, people let information through just in case, is staggering.”
  • And even flickers of tragi-comedy, such as a mistaken overdose on anti-anthrax medication, having missed the prescribing advice of the President’s physician. This staffer was unharmed although remains known as the person who tried to OD on the President’s jet.

Huge congratulations to one of my former bosses, Neil Grant, for Executive Producing such an astonishing piece of TV – the programme afforded a rare insight into a crisis, even more so given the global magnitude of those 24 hours. This is a must watch for all leaders and their teams for its historical significance, and because it demonstrates how we must prepare for challenges and then face into the force of the moment, by drawing on the collective expertise and insight in the room.

9/11 Inside the President's War Room

5 Lessons from Senior Business Execs to make you a better leader

Lessons from senior business leaders

Tips from media interviews with Senior Business Leaders: a year of learning in the virtual room

Global Media and Entertainment; Health, Sports and Fitness; High Street Brands, City Law Firms and Entrepreneurs. Over the last 12 months we’ve trained senior leaders from some of the world’s biggest and most successful brands.

When we pivoted to virtual media training, we never imagined the roll call of people we would work with. And yet a year on, we have had a privileged and unique insight into a diverse roster of senior leaders from many industries.

Continue reading “5 Lessons from Senior Business Execs to make you a better leader”

Who’s talking now?

BBC 50:50 The Equality Project

As a BBC producer I heard many outstanding female voices – from presenter Anne Robinson cross-examining CEOs on BBC Watchdog, to numerous female Executive Producers standing up to big bullying businesses trying to kill a great story.

I was part of production teams crafting complex programmes in challenging circumstances. These experiences shaped my own voice, including in the media training room, where I support people preparing to go on the record or in day to day interactions providing crisis management and corporate communications support.

Continue reading “Who’s talking now?”

From COVID-19 Crisis → Business-As-Usual

From COVID-19 Crisis → Busines-As-Usual

As COVID-19 silently crept onto our shores you may have been in regular crisis meetings as the virus’ huge impact took hold. Now, you may well be moving from that heightened crisis state to living with the new “normal”, whatever that looks like for your organisation.

As we all bed into week 5 of the lockdown we thought we’d share some insights on how to adapt from crisis to business-as-usual with some suggested next steps and evidence from our client work.

Continue reading “From COVID-19 Crisis → Business-As-Usual”

Media & Presentation Training 2.0

Media and Presentation Training with Mangold Consultancy

As TV news anchors around the world set up studios in their homes with teleprompters, specialist lighting, makeup and HD broadcast cameras; interviewees must also up their game. "News" needs experts, spokespeople and human stories more than ever and the best people you will see and hear, the ones who get invited back, have received media & presentation training – even if they are speaking from a laptop in their living room. Continue reading “Media & Presentation Training 2.0”

How do you keep communicating when the crisis is never-ending?

Coronavirus - Crisis Communications

I have seen some brilliant emails and posts in the last few days – from my local Indian restaurant, Haweli, to Sainsbury’s, to other small business owners like me.  It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small; clear, regular and relevant communications are critical.

As we all adjust to the new “normal” personally and “business as usual” professionally, it occurred to me that there are some really simple tips for communicating in a crisis.

Continue reading “How do you keep communicating when the crisis is never-ending?”

That Newsnight Interview – Think; Stop; Look and Listen; Wait; Look and Listen again; Arrive Alive

Pedestrians Wait - Photo by Matthew Feeney

Prince Andrew would have done well to follow the Green Cross Code as he stepped into the path of the oncoming Newsnight interview. There has since been much scrutiny of the Royal’s press advisors and why they failed to follow the basics when it comes to media handling in a global reputational storm.

Taking time to stop, look and listen to external communications advisors during a crisis is critical to long term reputation. Like a friendly Green Man, people like us, reiterate life outside the crisis bubble and wider public perception both in the moment and the hours, days and weeks to follow.

Continue reading “That Newsnight Interview – Think; Stop; Look and Listen; Wait; Look and Listen again; Arrive Alive”

Facebook: can I trust you again? A personal perspective.

Over the last 10 years my trust in Facebook has been eroded

When I first joined Facebook I trusted the platform and genuinely thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was so interactive, I could store and share photos of my young kids with friends (yes, I was that parent) and catch up on what everyone was up to from the comfort of my then small London flat. A few years later it seemed to be THE place to get breaking news which was always relevant to what I was interested in, thank you algorithms.

Over the last 10 years though that trust has been eroded. Continue reading “Facebook: can I trust you again? A personal perspective.”

Just say no – is it ever right to refuse an interview?

Mangold Consultancy TV Interview Training

Jeremy Corbyn & Tom WatsonYesterday morning on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme, Nick Robinson made a not insignificant point of letting listeners know that Jeremy Corbyn was “unavailable” for an interview. Robinson, reporting from the Labour Party Conference said Corbyn had been offered the pick of any time slot he wanted. But there was no Mr Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson stepped up instead.

It’s unusual for a political leader not to give an interview to the Today programme during party conference season. But who says anyone has to give an interview? Continue reading “Just say no – is it ever right to refuse an interview?”

Mangold Consultancy just got a new Mangold!

Jess Mangold

Very excited to welcome Jess Mangold as a Director, bringing a fresh and complimentary set of skills and experience to Mangold Consultancy.

Jess’ has a brilliant combination of journalism and communications experience.  A trained newspaper journalist who has worked across daily regional and national print titles, she’s also got a mean black book.  Continue reading “Mangold Consultancy just got a new Mangold!”

Kudos to my ex colleagues at BBC Watchdog

BMW

Credit to BBC Watchdog for their investigation on last night’s programme which lead to BMW announcing a recall of hundreds of thousands of cars.

The truth is that no one really knows what goes on inside an organisation during a crisis, apart from the people managing it.  There are often multiple business objectives which reach far beyond being featured on the programme.  Continue reading “Kudos to my ex colleagues at BBC Watchdog”