Dare to prepare


Don’t panic!

How many times have you woken up to a horrible headline, feeling grateful that you’re not part of the PR team having to deal with it?

No matter how many difficult situations you’ve handled, it doesn’t necessarily get easier. Subtle differences in the context and current climate mean that no two crises are exactly the same.

While some can be the fault of plain misjudgement (such as the classic Ratners case involving earrings and a prawn sandwich – worth a google if you’re unfamiliar with it), many crises arise from operational cock-ups and a sad few are true tragedy. Some, of course, aren’t crises at all: it takes judgement, self-control and a certain amount of steering to ensure that a small flare-up isn’t allowed to be blown out of all proportion. Comms people can foresee the problems, but of course there are limits to what we can do to avoid a crisis.

What you can influence, though, is your own response. An experienced colleague is a true treasure in a crisis. You can boost your confidence by taking simple steps to prepare yourself for that time when you’re the one taking that fateful early-hours call.

Having a mental plan of how you’ll react is a great comfort when you wake bleary-eyed to fight the fire. It’s worth spending some time now working out what your first steps would be. Sort out some basics, such as media training for your colleagues, knowing out of hours contact and password details, and ensuring easy access to accurate company facts.

With everyone able to broadcast their perspective of your crisis within seconds, it’s increasingly important to be one step ahead.


Hough Bellis is running a series of crisis comms training courses for housing providers and charities. For more information contact hello@houghbellis.co.uk

Bobbie Hough