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Crisis Management

In the movie City Slickers, Jack Palance (Curly) asked Billy Crystal (Mitch) if he knew the
secret of life, then raised his index finger and said, “One thing. Just one thing. You
stick to that and everything else don't mean @#*$!”

Crisis communication involves some subtle complexities, but the premise is simple.  
Stick to the one thing that matters most and never waiver from it – no matter the
distraction or impediment.

As communication professionals, we often refer to this concept as one’s SOCO –
Single Overriding Communication Objective.  From a message standpoint, your SOCO is
your home.  You always return to it.

All too often, in the heat of a crisis, companies and individuals try desperately to
respond to every imaginable issue that may affect the crisis at hand.  And inevitably,
haste turns to recklessness.  In most cases, you don’t have all the information at
your disposal, and speculation often leads to further disaster.

Bottom line, only so many leaks can be plugged at once.  And in most cases, the
smaller leaks are less consequential to the time factor.

In the wake of a crisis, stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, voters,
patients, citizens) are simply looking to you to calm the storm, not eradicate it.  
Never underestimate the strength and resolve of those most affected by the crisis.  At
the same time, always remember the most basic human needs under such
circumstances.  People want to know that you’re concerned for them, that you’re on
top of the situation, and that their well being matters most.

Yes, it’s true that members of the media will complicate the crisis with tangent
inquiries – some disingenuous and some well founded.  But you must always return
to your SOCO – the message that reminds you and every victim of the crisis at hand of
what matters above all else.

Crises escalate and subside in varying degrees, based on how a company or
individual responds to the most basic issues (usually the safety and well being of
others).  You cannot control where others (i.e. the media) want you to deviate, but
you can control how you frame your own messages.  And those are the ones people
want to hear most.

Understanding how to frame the crisis – in a way that shows both compassion for the
past and your vision moving forward – can make the difference in surviving the crisis.

And that’s what makes
SymAction Communications such a steady partner in this
process.  We understand how to manage the right messages in order to steer you
through a crisis.  We help you respond to media pressure, public reactions, and
internal unrest.

But above all,
SymAction Communications helps you transcend the short-term perils of
a crisis in order to build long-term credibility, respect and appreciation among all
those involved.
Crisis Management
Example of bridging back to your SOCO ...

TV Reporter:  Is it true that the black box has not been recovered after your
(airline company’s) commercial jet crashed earlier today?

Airline Executive:  We’re still searching, but our main concern right now is the
welfare of the victims’ families by helping them in any way possible.

TV Reporter:  Do you have any information as to what caused the crash?

Airline Executive:  Not at this time.  Our main concern right now is the welfare of
the victims’ families by helping them in any way possible.

TV Reporter:  Do you know when this information will be made available?

Airline Executive:  I do not know.  However, I do know that our main concern right
now is the welfare of the victims’ families by helping them in any way possible.
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