Rick Amme heads the crisis and media
relations firm of Amme & Associates, Inc.
For almost 20 years, he has consulted
with Fortune 500 companies and executives on how to protect and enhance
their reputations during times of crisis.
Amme believes in following certain
underlying principles to drive your crisis
1. Take care of victims or perceived victims. That’s typically what members
of the media are interested in.
2. Fix the problem. When did you learn
about it and what did you do about
3. Keep all stakeholders in the loop.
Seventy-five percent of effective crisis
management is internal. Get that
right and the rest tends to take care
4. Respond rapidly to media inquiries—
if it suits your strategy—and try to
get your best shot in the first story.
People decide rapidly whether you’re
the good guy or bad guy. Give them a
reason to like you and trust you.
5. Rehearse critical press interviews.
6. Get it over with or you’ll make it
worse. Go fast, yes, but “fast” is not a
synonym for “stupid.”
7. Anticipate the worst-case media questions. Your credibility rests on your
ability to answer tough, legitimate
8. Your talking points ought to address
the worst-case questions. That’s
where the media and public interest
9. People who are directly or indirectly
affected by your situation want to
know if they are safe. Your words and
actions should reassure them that
you are striving to ensure their safety.
10. Have a crisis team and a tested crisis
plan, and know the above principles.
They should help inform smart strategies, tactics and words.
In the world of social media, the same
overall points apply. However, there are
other tips to consider. Melissa Agnes
Crisis Management is a respected crisis
management firm that specializes in cri-
sis response, prevention, planning and
training for the digital age. Melissa sum-
marizes the reality of managing a crisis
through social media channels this way:
“Within mere minutes of a crisis striking
your company or organization, it will be
mentioned online, with a high-risk po-
tential of going viral. In order to manage
the online realities of today’s crises and
issues, you need to understand the new
rules of crisis management.”
Agnes Offers These Tips:
1. Your maximum crisis response time
in social media channels is one hour.
Otherwise, negative momentum
can have reached a point that the
damage cannot be controlled. If you
are unable to respond to a crisis with
one hour, figure out why. Negative
repercussions to your client’s brand
can have a direct hit to their bottom
line. And when faced with a crisis situation, those repercussions can last
one heck of a long time.
2. Always be monitoring. The better you
monitor social media channels, the
more you are aware of what is being
said about your brand and the sooner
you can detect an existing or looming threat. The sooner you detect
the threat, the sooner you’re able to
respond to it.
3. Be prepared. This means understanding the difference between a crisis
and an issue, as well as first-response
4. Practice, practice, practice. The online
world is a constant blur of movement
and messages. The only way to manage online threats is by being part of
it. The more you practice, the better
and quicker and more confident you
will be in addressing a crisis situation.
The Moral of the Story
The media does not create a crisis;
companies do. The professional partners
of a company in crisis have a vested
interest and an ethical responsibility to
help their client minimize every threat
to its reputation, its assets, and its
financial solvency. And while the media
should never be counted on to “sweep
up after the parade,” with a little insight,
good timing and the right approach, a
strategic message can turn the media
into the best friend and influencer a
company and its professional partners
can have. TSL
Peter Tourtellot, CTP, is a founding principal of
Anderson Bauman Tourtellot Vos & Company,
a corporate revitalization company that works
with companies in more than 40 industries
throughout the United States. A leader in the
development of the turnaround management
profession, he is a past president and chairman
of the Turnaround Management Association
and a past president and chair of its Carolinas
chapter. He has served as chairman of
the association’s Certification Oversight
Committee, a position that was created upon
the merger of the Association of Certified
Turnaround Professionals into the Turnaround
Management Association in January 2008. He
also serves as chair of the academic committee
for the Carolinas Chapter of the TMA.
Tourtellot is a past president and chairman
of the Association of Certified Turnaround
Professionals and served as vice president
of education and a member of their board of
directors prior to the merger. He has authored
and co-authored several articles and white
papers on various topics related to turnaround
management, as well as having spoken at
numerous industry conferences and workshops.