Can businesses effectively prepare for the unpredictable?
For CEOs, the world is a scary place. Growing technological complexity, the advent of an interconnected global economy in which a disaster in one region can reverberate in others, and the increased use of social media contribute to the number of crises that businesses face. How a company limits the damage is the focus of the burgeoning field of crisis management—a field that did not exist 25 years ago. Crisis managers agree that executives should plan for crises long before encountering any and strive to build an organization that is less vulnerable to them. But many note that planning will get a company only so far; the unexpected things that can go wrong are too great. Experts disagree about the importance of public communication: Does apologizing for a mistake help? It can, but only to a degree. As one expert put it, when a crisis hits, CEOs “pretty much have to accept that you're going to lose,” at least in the short run.
Dezenhall, Eric, “Glass Jaw: A Manifesto for Defending Fragile Reputations in an Age of Instant Scandal,” Twelve, 2014. A professional crisis manager explains how situations can spiral out of control on social media and the Internet and suggests containment strategies.
Diermeier, Daniel, “Reputation Rules: Strategies for Building Your Company's Most Valuable Asset,” McGraw-Hill, 2011. A University of Chicago professor of public administration argues that active attention to building a strong reputation is crucial and describes potential sources of reputational risk.
Eaton, Colin, “Oil spill legal worries still haunt BP investors,” http://FuelFix.com, Oct. 13, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Goodman, Peter S., “In Case of Emergency: What Not to Do,” The New York Times, Aug. 21, 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Halzack, Sarah, “Home Depot and JPMorgan are doing fine. Is it a sign we're numb to data breaches?” The Washington Post, Oct. 6, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Heineman, Ben W. Jr., “Crisis Management Failures in Japan's Reactors and the BP Spill,” Harvard Business Review blogs, March 17, 2011, http://tinyurl.com/
Moore, Derek, “Crisis Management planning – like painting the garden fence?” TTG Digital, Aug. 4, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Olenski, Steve, “Nearly Four Years After Deepwater Horizon, Has BP's Brand Image Recovered?” Forbes blogs, Jan. 24, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Temin, Davia, “The Role of Boards in Crises: 10 Steps For Directors Before, During And After Crisis,” Forbes blogs, Oct. 8, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Washkuch, Frank, Diana Bradley and Lindsay Stein, “Crisis experts: Malaysia Airlines had to respond where news is breaking – on Twitter,” PR Week, July 17, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Profit and Principles – does there have to be a choice?” Royal Dutch Shell, 1998, http://tinyurl.com/
Barrage, Lint, Eric Chyn and Justine Hastings, “Advertising, Reputation, and Environmental Stewardship: Evidence from the BP Oil Spill,” National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 19838, January 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Smith, N. Craig, Sean Ansett and Lior Erez, “How Gap Inc. Engaged With its Stakeholders,” MIT Sloan Management Review, June 22, 2011, http://tinyurl.com/
Valukas, Anton R., “Report to Board of Directors of General Motors Company Regarding Ignition Switch Recalls,” Jenner & Block, May 29, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Horovitz, Bruce, “Subway to remove chemical from bread,” USA Today, Feb. 10, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Kitroeff, Natalie, “Activists Fight Merger of Two Companies Accused of Preying on Students,” Bloomberg News, Jan. 26, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Sullivan, Tom, “Lego to drop Shell partnership bowing to Greenpeace pressure,” Agence France-Press, Oct. 9, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Devitt, Polina, “Weak rouble helps Russia's Norilsk weather metals fall-CEO,” Reuters, Jan. 23, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Kapner, Suzanne, “American Apparel CEO Made Crisis a Pattern,” The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Vlasic, Bill, “G.M. Chief Steps Up to Handle Safety Questions,” The New York Times, March 18, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Halzack, Sarah, “Publix is looking for a crisis PR agency — just in case it gets hacked,” The Washington Post, Oct. 8, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Kristobak, Ryan, “Sony Hires Olivia Pope Inspiration Judy Smith To Handle ‘Interview’ Runoff,” The Huffington Post, Dec. 21, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Terlep, Sharon, “NFL Draws Up a New Defensive Scheme,” The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 26, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Dennys, Harriet, “Sainsbury's mocked for ‘Fifty Pence Challenge’ to boost profits,” The Telegraph, Sept. 30, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Einhorn, Bruce, “AirAsia CEO Turns to Twitter for Crisis Management,” Bloomberg News, Jan. 5, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Marinucci, Carla, “Social media shifts rules for PR crises,” San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 17, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Bernstein Crisis Management Blog
Bernstein Crisis Management Inc., 700 S. Myrtle Ave., #404, Monrovia, CA 91016
Blog by crisis manager Jonathan Bernstein about crisis news.
c/o Freedom Press, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7QX, United Kingdom
+44 (0)207 426 0005
Liberal nonprofit that tracks trends in activist and public anti-corporate views.
The Crisis Blog
Blog by author Steven Fink that discusses crisis news.
Institute for Public Relations
2096 Weimer Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-8400
Nonprofit foundation that supports and promulgates research on crisis management, corporate social responsibility and reputation management.
International Crisis Management Association
Sovereign Court, 230 Upper 5th St., Milton Keynes, MK0 2HR, United Kingdom
International nonprofit membership organization that promulgates research and education on disasters and disaster management.
National Communication Association
1765 N St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036
Scholars' group that supports research and learning on communications, including crisis communication.
Public Relations Society of America
33 Maiden Lane, 11th Fl., New York, NY 10038-5150
Membership society for public-relations professionals, including crisis management specialists.
Steelhenge Crisis Thinking
16 St. Martin's Le Grand, 6th Fl., London, EC1A 4EN, United Kingdom
+44 (0)207 871 1565
Blog by staff of U.K.-based crisis consultancy group.