Posted tagged ‘crisis management’

What can professional communicators learn from a tragic crisis?


“…I want to stress we have the resources and resilience to deal with this situation and my officers are out in large numbers to provide reassurance and protection…”

Sue Sim Acting Chief Constable Northumbria Police

The shots that rang out in the middle of the night brought to an end the crisis phase of a very unique manhunt that has been at the forefront of the news throughout the week.

Now the reviews and investigations will take place but there is one aspect that I think can be commented on immediately and that is the handling of the various stakeholders by Northumbria Police.  I think they have done an exemplary job in very difficult circumstances.

Not only have they had to conduct a massive, complex and highly dangerous operation but they have had to work with multiple organisations, manage the international media and reassure politicians and citizens alike often having to take tough decisions.  It has been stakeholder crisis management at its most intense

Bodyproject believes their actions have demonstrated stakeholder management at its best and the learning points for us as professional communicators is not only how they handled the events as they unfolded but in the way they prepared for such an eventuality.  The processes and procedures and then training and knowledge have been clearly in evidence.  All of the statements made from senior leaders to the people on the teams have been absolutely defined and delivered with care and targeted.  The public meetings, media briefings, deployment of multiple agency resources highly effective.

It is a pity that global super brands such as BP and Toyota could not learn and adopt similar ways to deal with crisis and stakeholder management.  Public servants are often lambasted, not least by the new coalition Government, and in some cases rightly so.  But in some circumstances they are leading the way for all to follow including business.

Of course, the death of Raoul Moat and the many other victims of this tragic episode will throw up all sorts of review points from could it have been avoided in the first place to single events that could have been handled better.  Ultimately the loss of two lives and the injuries to others is tragic and whether it can be used as a case study for organisations to learn from is difficult given the sensitivity and emotion.

Having said that I believe that Northumbria Police have used exemplary communication and stakeholder management throughout and should be commended for their efforts and we can all learn from such events.

A risky business


2010 so far has been punctuated by two huge and prominent events of nature that effectively brought parts of our society to a standstill.

The severe snows that turned Britain white plunged our infrastructure into chaos.  Major supermarket supply chains fell apart, roads, trains and planes ground to a halt and mostly we spent our time worrying about salt.

And now a distant volcano has bestowed a cloud of despondent doom and resulted in hundreds and thousands of people being stranded in abject misery let alone counting the cost to business and the supply chain.

The problem to me is we just can’t cope with such events.  We appear to be a society blighted by inaction:  diplomacy, risk aversion, bureaucracy, litigious considerations, lack of pace and urgency all seem to combine resulting in stasis.  Both of these events showed no sign of any crisis management and only days after they unfolded did activity start to happen.  The lack of information, communication and leadership was woeful.

I for one feel worried about what these events have taught us and how modern society seems to be perched on a precarious ledge teetering on the brink of uncertainty and inability to act.  In business, many of us have had to learn about crisis management and I spend my days helping my clients help themselves in promoting and, importantly, protecting their reputation.  But, I am left in no doubt that the signs are there that we need to build the capability and capacity to deal with such huge natural occurrences that impact our rather not so natural existence on this earth.  What we need most is Government to provide the credibility and leadership so we can all be reassured.