Tag Archives: crisis communication

Government Crisis Communication: Nation’s reaction to a natural disaster

    We always talk about company crisis communication and individual crisis communication. What about a nation’s first reaction to a crisis, particularly, a natural disaster?

    It comes to the government public relations, which focuses on the relationship with the public.

    Recently, natural disasters happened frequently. China Sichuan earthquake, Haiti earthquake and Chile earthquake all bring the country into crisis. Every move of the country is under the attention of the media and the whole world. This is the time for a nation to show its capacity of decision and execution, and its power to overcome difficulties and solve problems. China has demonstrated a successful crisis management; its rapid responses, effective measures and united people earn both the heart of Chinese people and the respect of the world. So if making the right reaction to a national crisis, it will be a good chance for the country to perform government public relations and establish positive international image.

●Let people know what happened, what is going on and what will be done to deal with the crisis.

    When a natural disaster breaks, what people want to know most is the fact. The government should truthfully reveal the sphere of influence and relevant statistics. It should also make rapid response to control the situation. Let people know the truth can make them at ease and confident, and trust the government.

●Show the government has paid great attention to the event and taken effective measures.

    When the disaster happens, people will be upset. There will be rumors and chaos around the country. If people learn that the country has attached great importance to the crisis and the situation might be controlled under the government in time action, they will have the confidence and courage to get together and solve the problem.

●    Place victims’ interest first and care about its people.

    The key of the crisis communication is to let people perceive that the government is concerned about the sufferings of people. People are the most important part of a nation. Thinking about victims first can make people have a feeling of being valued and a sense of belonging. It is a good way for the government to rally public support.

●    Call for help from outside.

    To earlier and better solve the crisis, the government also needs to seek help form the whole country or the rest of the world. The government should set up an example, unite its people, and express the love for the nation and love for the people.

●    Establish international image and reputation.

    When the crisis breaks, the world is watching you; everyone keeps eyes on you. The government has to step up and show people what it can do and where is its power. The crisis is also an opportunity for the country to build positive nation image, win reputation and increase international status.

    Of course, all the above need us to use the power of media, both the stream media and social media, to convey information, get help and unite people. This requires the government to build and maintain sound media relationships.

Silence Makes Matter Worse

Tell the truth.

It has been “common sense” in the first reaction of a crisis among the crisis-hit people or crisis handlers. When dealing with a crisis, the first thing coming into mind is to tell the truth, and everyone likes to talk up it. But when it comes to the actual situation, people always fail to do so.

They used to choose keep silent or tend to get out of the issue. The fact is, the so-called “I want to keep private” is unrealistic. The silence or escape will arouse the interest of media and public and lead them to get to the bottom. Consequently, it will cause things worse. Bad news will spread more widely and become more serious.

Tiger’s sex scandal event is an example for it. He didn’t immediately make first reaction when the crisis happened, but froze his mouth. This makes the media and the public want more detail to satisfy their curiosity and catch the chance to well publicize and report the issue. His early negligence causes the crisis out of control.

The problem is common in today’s crisis management cases. A lot of people, especially those celebrities, in hot water keep silence to make stern denials only to go backward into confessions after more evidence are unearthed. This kind of behavior should absolutely be avoided in our effort to deal with a crisis.

In this case, although doing a good remedy afterward, why don’t we actively respond to the incidence from the beginning and not let it expand?

Therefore, when making reactions to a crisis, we should always keep in mind two factors, “Don’t delay” and “Do talk”.

Don’t delay. Make your initial statement at the first hour after a crisis breaks. Hold press conference or make exposure to tell people what happened. You can give an explanation to provide a sense of what led to the issue. Without going into every private detail, you should just give as much information that can let the public know what’s going on and satisfy their curiosity. People always want the truth. If you can tell them the facts at the firs hour before they make different assumptions, they would be more likely to forgive you and move on the incidence. Time control is very important in solving problems.

Do talk. You should open your mouth and speak out your own voice after the crisis breaks. You should actively offer the positive information and do effective communication with the public. Because the longer you don’t talk, the worse it looks for you, and the more you are silent, the more the media and the public are busily doing what they can to get the next scoop. In your silent period, lots of people may be talking about the story and any worse message may be reported. So not talking when a crisis happens is not smart.

In a crisis, it still is much better if bad news came from us rather than someone else. Before we take any measures, remember that there’s no back page on the internet.

Social Media: An Unavoidable Factor in Crisis Communication

What’s going on? Check your Facebook, Twitter, scan your blogosphere. Got it!

Social media has become a super popular tool for people to learn news and collect information. Its convenience, timeliness and simplicity enable people to quickly get update news and enjoy free speech. Social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Blog, can make the news go to the vital. News can spread world wide within a very short time. And it allows people to freely comment and discuss on the Internet, thus in turn, attracting more attention on the issue.

It sounds good for the positive messages. But, remember that bad news goes much faster than good ones. If you got a crisis, the social media would be vital. Never overlook the influence of social media on a crisis. The ignorance or poor use of the social media when you react in a crisis can lead you to the dilemma or even failure.

The recent “war” between NBC and its “Tonight Show” host confirms this point. The term of Leno v. Conan v. NBC has been one of the most heated disscussion going around on the Network. However, the results are apparently different.

On the organization side, NBC executives failed to communicate with fans who expressed their overwhelming support for Conan on both Twitter and Facebook, which caused the situation out of control. On the individual side, there are more than 600,000 fans on the “I’m With CoCo Facebook page“, not to mention the number of tweets. While Leno’s show page has 16,617 fans and his personal page was taken over by O’Brien supporters. This apparently shows the significance of social media in the communication of dealing with a crisis.  

The social media communication paradigm is to engage. People freely publish and share news on the Net and others voluntarily spread the news so that the news can reach a wide audience in short time. People like to participate in the various discussions and give their own opinions, which will obtain other people’s recognition or draw more attention to the event.

Therefore, when a crisis breaks, and we want to make our first reaction via the social media, the best way is to be involved and join people’s topics. It’s better for us to express our initial statement on the targeted social media and communicate with the audiences on the discussion. By monitoring what people say and their attitudes, we can try to control the situation and find ways to solve problems. Only by putting ourselves in the social media information dissemination systems can we be completely informed of the situation and effectively handle the crisis. Remember two keys, full engagement and true interaction.

Then what should we pay attention to when dealing with social media in the first reaction of a crisis?

Besides the engagement mentioned above, there are other factors that you should caution. “If you know your audience, locate them online, listen, add value, respond, refrain from spamming and just be yourself, you’ll have far better and more long-lasting positive results,” Aliza Sherman said in her post “10 Golden Rules of Social Media”. A quick response with the information that the public want to know after learning what they think may be the most useful way to make reaction via the social media.

Moreover, we should always be ready to create contents. Because “the best way to mitigate social media crises is to respond at the flashpoint, you must be prepared to make and launch content in a variety of formats and circumstances”, Jay Baer talked in his post “4 Brand-saving recommendations for social media crisis management”.