PRSA panelists offer advice on crisis management

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Spiros Mantzavinos of The Mantzavinos Group – Public Affairs & Communications moderated a panel of experts in a workshop sponsor by the Public Relations Society of America’s Delaware Chapter.

Anthony Farina, chief communications officer & vice president of corporate communications for CSL Behring; Deborah Hamilton, government relations and public strategies for Hamilton Goodman Partners; and Lisa Lindsey, public affairs and community relations for PBF Energy, shared their insights on preparing for and dealing with a crisis.

All agreed that the fundamentals of crisis communications have not changed, but the speed that information is released has changed significantly with social media.

In today’s society, everyone is a reporter or publisher. With just 140 characters or the click of a send button, a company’s reputation can be destroyed in minutes. Businesses must be prepared.

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Key takeaways from the panel included:

  • Planning is key – anticipate future crises
  • Communicate honestly – communicate the facts and be honest when facts are unknown
  • Control the message with frequent updates
  • Receive buy-in on crisis preparation from senior management
  • Understand the difference between issues management and crisis management

“We live in a reputation-driven society,” said Mantzavinos. “Good communications cannot overcome lack of planning or a poor organizational response to a crisis. So, no matter how uncomfortable it becomes within your organization, it is critical to anticipate and be prepared to respond to the most difficult and painful questions because, in today’s social media world, they will be asked.”

He advised professionals to learn as much as possible about their organizations and industry, identify key stakeholders that will be impacted by a crisis, write a plan and practice.

(From the PRSA Delaware Chapter)

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