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Crisis Management

Don’t let your crisis become a disaster . . .

Every organization is vulnerable to crisis. At any given moment the unforeseeable can happen. A disgruntled employee can take to social media and quickly (and virally) send your organization’s reputation into question. Employees can be injured or killed due to negligence, or financial improprieties can come to light. Chances are your organization has not even begun to contemplate the possibilities, let alone come up with a plan for how to deal with them.

So why is it that some organizations recover with their brands intact while others suffer years of humiliation and financial loss?

Communication. How we communicate with our shareholders, our employees, our customers, directors and neighbors during a crisis is paramount. How we communicate with the media is even more important. In 1964 Congressman Charles Brownson coined the phrase “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the gallon.” Media relations don’t begin with a crisis. Your relationship with the media is one that needs to be fostered with transparency and an open door policy long before something is amiss.

When seven people died after taking extra-strength Tylenol capsules that had been laced with potassium cyanide in 1982, the company immediately put customer safety first and pulled 31 million bottles of Tylenol (worth 100 million) off the shelves and stopped all production and advertising of the product. It also embraced the Chicago Police, FBI and FDA in the search for the killer and offered a substantial reward. The media embraced the lengths J&J went to to openly address the issue at great cost to itself, thus portraying it as a victim instead of villain, and leading the Tylenol brand to a full recovery.

On the other hand, a series of Toyota recalls was a major communications disaster for Toyota, essentially due to the absence of one key element — transparency. Since 2002, Toyota knew there were problems with its Camry. While the company later claimed its problems were due to stuck floor mats, earlier documents detailed the problem as electrical. The problem simmered behind a smokescreen for another five years until finally, 55,000 of the cars were recalled. When Toyota’s CEO was called in from Japan to testify in front of Congress, his story was vague, sending the media into a feeding frenzy. In essence, the deeper Toyota buried the bone, the harder the dog dug.

And know this. Should your organization face a crisis there will be no shortage of folks digging for answers. Do you know what yours will be?

DownWrite Creative does.

Your organization needs to be prepared for how to handle a crisis long before one appears. Knowing what to say, when to say it and who to say it to is critical to protecting your organization from the fallout. DownWrite Creative has the solid experience, communication techniques and media relations to prepare you for and walk you calmly through any crisis, ensuring your organization will be seen as compassionate, responsible and transparent.

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Client Testimonial
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“During our crisis, when I was overwhelmed by physical labor and mental exhaustion, I knew that Holly was handling her own issues and emergencies in the main office. I can say with genuine honesty that I never doubted her ability to do what needed to be done efficiently and with professionalism. Holly was an enormous asset to us at a great time of need. Her presence and skill were what we needed to move forward through the anguish and heartache, so we were heard with honesty and integrity. We will forever be grateful for her actions through one of the worst events in our facility’s history.”

Director of Animal Care, Maicie Sykes, Lake Superior Zoo