Understanding crisis management

    In the public relations industry, there are many factors to building and maintaining relationships between organisations and the public. It’s also about reputation and crisis management.

    The way an organisation handles a crisis can make or break not only their reputation, but also the trust they have with their stakeholders. This is why it’s imperative to understand crisis management and its importance.

    Understanding crisis management

    Crisis management definition

    In simplest terms, crisis management is the process where an organisation will handle a crisis which may threaten the company or its stakeholders. According to ASIS International, it’s now considered the most important process in the public relations industry.

    There are many industries where crisis management can be used, including:

    • Airline industry
    • Shipping industry
    • Oil and gas industry
    • Food industry
    • Fashion industry
    • Hotel industry
    • Banking industry
    • Tourism industry
    • Power industry
    • Events industry
    • Pharmaceutical industry
    • Insurance industry
    • Petroleum industry
    • Hospitality industry.

    Elements of crisis management

    There are three elements which are common to most crises. These are:

    1. A threat to the organisation
    2. The element of surprise
    3. A short amount of time to make decisions.

    However, according to Professor Steven Venette at the University of Southern Mississippi, there’s now a fourth element to crisis management due to the fact that crisis is often a catalyst  for transformation. This element is the need for change.

    Types of crisis management

    Before implementing a strategy, it’s important to identify the type of crisis so the necessary and appropriate strategy can be used.

    Examples of types of crises include:

    • Natural disaster
    • Confrontation
    • Malevolence
    • Workplace violence
    • Rumours
    • Man-made disasters
    • Organisational misdeeds.

    Crisis management examples

    As mentioned, crisis management can be used (and is often quite common) in the hospitality industry for several reasons.

    For instance, the hospitality industry is linked to other industries including tourism, and crises can have a domino effect. Due to this risk, they need to be managed as soon as possible. Tourism and hospitality can be quite vulnerable due to unexpected crises such as natural disasters which can have large-scale impact on the industries.

    According to authors Peter Hosie and Christof Pforr in their book Crisis Management in the Tourism Industry: Beating the Odds, to minimise the effect of unexpected disasters, it’s important for organisations to have a plan in place.

    This plan should address a potential disaster with extreme care, have both proactive and reactive strategies and primarily aim to prevent a crisis or alternatively reduce negative effects.

    Another example of crisis management in the hospitality industry is a food safety crisis. If a customer at a restaurant has food poisoning, it’s imperative to have a reactive strategy in place before the crisis worsens and affects not only the reputation of the restaurant, but also its business.

    All organisations should have a crisis management plan in place so key staff know how to act or react to the situation, to determine who will deal with media and what key messages will need to be communicated. An effective crisis communications plan mitigates risk and protects a company or person’s public image.

    Do you or your company have a crisis management plan in place?