Businesses want their crisis communication insurance policies in place, now. Having watched the carefully built up reputations of Toyota and BP fall to pieces over the last year, thoughts have turned from building reputations to maintaining them, and the PR industry is responding to the business opportunity.
From October, the CIPR will be running a masters-level diploma in crisis communications at their London headquarters. According to PRWeek, the new course ‘will give PR practitioners the skills to respond to threats and challenges to corporate reputation’.
Ann Mealor, interim CEO, CIPR said:
A CIPR conference on ‘Reinventing crisis management in a wired world’ is also scheduled to take place on 23rd September. The clever PR agencies are taking note and stepping up training. Businesses don’t just want crisis communication teams; they want the best crisis communication teams available. It’s not as if BP didn’t have them, and look what happened there...
"This is an exciting and timely new addition to our qualifications. It will build skills, knowledge and understanding, enabling people in PR to step up to the mark at times of crisis when a clear and authoritative response is required" (PRWeek)
In my opinion, the most important aspect of crisis communications is to keep the brand and corporate values in mind at all times. So BP, if your values state that you care about the environment, don’t hold back the extent of a catastrophic oil spill until the last possible moment. Instead disclose it immediately and get all the help you can to clean it up.
And PR agencies, use the disaster stories to set yourselves apart and make sure you know where others went wrong.