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Responding to media in times of crisis

What would be any organization’s worst nightmare?

A good candidate for this dubious honor might be to see your reputation, carefully built over many years, destroyed in a matter of hours or days because of an inadvertent incident resulting in major customer dissatisfaction—or worse, physical injury or damage to property.

Here, it is not just the situation itself that is the problem, but also how the public will perceive both it and your business during and after the crisis.

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Many organizations believe that with less or no talk at all, less mistakes could be committed.

But does this still hold true in today’s hyper-connected and share-happy world?

The ability to respond to traditional and social media in times of crisis is an invaluable skill that every organization must always have at the ready, and the Inquirer Academy will be offering a workshop that aims to give participants an appreciation of the importance of communication among important players of the organization, as well as the public, in times of crisis.

“Don’t think damage control, but focus on the total recovery of the brand,” says Connie Kalagayan, the program facilitator and a respected public relations and corporate communications expert.

She also had this to share with regard to how organizations respond to issues:

It seems handling a crisis is costly. What should I do if I am only a small/medium enterprise?

Crisis management can be costly if the crises resulted in property damage or loss of lives.

However, managing a crisis does not always mean you have to spend, and it shouldn’t be that costly for small and medium scale enterprises, as long as you have prepared yourselves for the eventuality of a crisis.

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What is important is to practice good corporate governance, have policies and systems in place, as well as an updated crisis manual, which should be handy if the unimaginable happens.

Develop and strengthen your relationships with your stakeholders, partners and media.

You need to have their full support as well as the cooperation of your management and employees to work as one if challenged by a crisis.

How has social media changed the way we deal with crises?

Social media has changed what constitutes a crisis. How people express dissatisfaction and how people obtain and access information has changed.

The speed of information and response expectations, as well as who people trust, has changed.

Social media and traditional media today have become co-dependent.

If before you are being evaluated by how good your key messages and statements are, the spotlight today is on how well you handled the crisis in full view of all your stakeholders.

What are the most common mistakes made during a crisis?

The most common mistake is to imagine that a crisis will never happen. It is a mistake to set aside a boiling issue or a developing crisis and think or hope that this will go away sooner than later.

Do not ignore and hide, and please take action and accept responsibility when a problem happens. It is better to over-prepare than be caught off-guard when things like these happen.

A good crisis handler knows that the media can be his or her ally.

When a crisis happens, you should prepare and provide the media with a statement including all the facts, figures, the situation and actions that your company is taking to solve the problem.

Do not wait for them to hound you, bring the facts to them to avoid unnecessary speculations and conclusions.

Kalagayan has accumulated a wealth of over 25 years’ experience in the areas of issues and crisis management, corporate image and brand stewardship, strategic marketing communications, top level partnerships, as well as CSR projects and advocacies.

In her present role as assistant vice president for corporate affairs of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, she takes on the responsibility of managing both internal and external communications, acting as the protector of the Inquirer’s brand image, leading its issues and crisis management team, and serving as the executive director of the Inquirer Foundation.

This two-day public workshop entitled “Issues and Crisis Management: Responding to Media in Times of Crisis” will held on July 7 to 8, at the Inquirer Academy.

This highly interactive and hands-on workshop is ideal for entrepreneurs, PR practitioners, corporate and public affairs practitioners, as well as marketing and communications professionals.

Representatives of politicians and celebrities, and people assigned to represent an organization or advocacy, will also find this workshop enlightening.

The Inquirer Academy is at 4168 Don Chino Roces Ave. corner Ponte St., Makati City.

For more information about this or any future programs, you may e-mail ask@inquireracademy.com, call (632) 8341557 and look for Jaime Leogardo, or visit the website at www.inquireracademy.com.

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