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PR101: What To Do In A Crisis :

PR101: What To Do In A Crisis

Groups and individuals in the news are often remarkably accessible until problems arise.

Then, suddenly, people aren’t in, calls aren’t returned, and folks who once burned-up the phone lines looking for coverage disappear.

The “take to the hills” response to bad news cedes all promotional ground to one’s adversaries and critics. There’s no possibility of defending your position or explaining what went wrong. Every group, corporation and organization needs a crisis management plan and part of that plan must include a willingness to speak with the media.

The 1982 Tylenol poisonings in Chicago illustrate the best way to handle an emergency. Here drug capsules had been laced with cyanide and several people died. In full view of the public, the manufacturer removed capsules from store shelves nationwide and took back capsules purchased by consumers. The cost to the company may have been as high as $250 million, a staggering expense. But not much later Tylenol was back in the market as a best-selling painkiller.

The public saw that the manufacturer had acted fairly and quickly, that it was willing to take tremendous losses to protect its customers, and that it too was a victim. A potential boondoggle was turned around, in large measure by the manufacturer’s willingness to deal openly with a terrible problem and by the widespread sense of trust which resulted.

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