Crisis Management – Mervyn Edgecombe Resonds
Mervyn Edgecombe, Managing Director, MEA Public RelationsCrisis PR is about being open, assertive, in command and ahead of a situation rather than dominated by it. Imperative the MD of company X gets on the front foot as soon as possible, and avoids at all costs a bunker mentality. I recommend the MD’s return from holiday to take charge of the crisis. Adopting an open, confident approach is imperative for company X’s credibility; the media and health authorities must perceive him as “good guy” whom they can trust. Bring in outside PR consultants, as the PR manager has discredited himself via his own actions and media will not trust him again. Apologise to the press for “inadvertently” misleading them and pledge to keep them fully apprised in future with twice-daily press conferences.
Call in health authorities for laboratory analysis of product Y and full investigation of the plant. Establish company’s own investigation by independent team of experts.
Earliest possible meeting with disgruntled ex-employee. Company should move heaven and earth to prevent him being reached first by the media or wheeled out by organisation Z.
If he is to talk, it should be at a joint company X /organisation Z press conference after his claims have been validated.
Company X must urgently strike a positive working relationship with organisation Z, for it has the damaging potential to continually and seriously undermine the company’s credibility and be its most wounding critic. Company X must convince them it takes their concerns seriously and will co-operate to positively resolve the crisis.
Carry out full product recall and suspend the US sales venture.
PR manager to set up internal communications programme giving staff reassurance and daily updates. Health checks on unaffected children with visits by appointed company director to all sick children in hospital/at home until crisis ends.
Overhaul company crisis PR programme. The PR manager should always be in possession of up-to-date contact details for colleagues whether on holiday/ business trip/at home. Lack of these basic details is unforgivable.