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Crisis Communication

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A crisis that could affect your organization's reputation and value could happen at any time. Don't make these common mistakes.

My work with clients in crisis is conducted confidentially. Although I would like to share examples of my work, I'm confident you will appreciate that I cannot do so. However, several clients have been kind enough to offer their perspectives on my work with them during crisis situations. For example, Marcy Kelly, President and CEo of Wedgewood Pharmacy had this to say:

“We originally engaged David in 2003. Crisis communication was his specialty, and we were certainly in a crisis. He responded immediately, freeing himself up for a meeting the following day, and arriving at the meeting thoroughly prepared with a self-study understanding of the industry, and research in hand. He helped us think through our communication needs internally and externally, performed primary research with our customers on the issue at hand, and promptly developed talking points for employees and the media. The crisis at hand could have had a significantly negative impact on our financial performance at that time, and David's work helped to avert that outcome. As a result of that, and many other successful projects over the next few years, we engaged David on retainer. He has performed a "customer relationship check- up" that is impacting our strategy development, the planning and implementation of a media relations strategy, a public affairs engagement for our industry association, and frequent copywriting projects from our Wedgewood Guide to the voice over for our online tour. David is the ultimate planner. Everything has its place within the scheme of things. When he make plans, they are detailed, logical and progressive (A before B, then B before C, etc.) Before he takes action, he has thought out all the possibilities and then decided on the most probable action to take. He loves to anticipate problems. He checks and rechecks all of the details over and over before taking the first step in the plan of action. Solving problems is one of David's greatest joys. In business, David's bottom-line is dollars and cents. He is very resourceful with money and budgets. If given the right opportunity, he can stretch nickels and dimes into dollars by monitoring and planning the details of how money is acquired and spent. I highly recommend the work of David Kirk.”

As the result of developing urgent communication programs in situations ranging from unexpected executive resignations, hostile takeover attempts, tragic deaths, evacuations, chemical spills, faulty products and a variety of other threats to companies' reputations, I can say that certain factors are almost always present in corporate crisis situations. I believe, that the list below clearly distinguishes my understanding of and approach to clients in crisis.

Common mistakes in a crisis


Clients in crisis typically ...

  • ... are driven to respond to executive ego damage rather than actual damage to the interests or reputation of the organization;

  • ... greatly over-estimate the role that mass media play in creating or resolving the crisis situation;

  • ... greatly under-estimate the role that opinion leaders play in resolving crises;

  • ... are very likely to want to take actions that will extend the crisis, not resolve it;

  • ... don't speak in a way that helps to resolve a crisis;

  • ... are guided by fear of lawsuits rather than what they know is the right thing to do;

  • ... have one, specific and very dangerous gap in their ability to manage a crisis effectively.

If I may be of service to you in a crisis situation in which effective communication with key constituencies is vital, please contact me in confidence.

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