Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fix It 

Some organizations see crisis PR as a momentary event. Others see an opportunity to change and get better. These views have different outcomes. For the first view, PR is a fire extinguiser -- "In case of fire, break glass." The second takes time to understand why a crisis occurred and what it has to do to prevent it from happening again. The second organization is the one with fewer crises in the long run.

Organizations can be on both sides of the issue because there are external events and issues over which an organization has no immediate control. The error arises when an organization assumes the same crisis won't occur again. PR is told to "fix it," and the organization continues on as before. This is particularly dangerous when crisis is self-induced -- that is, when the organization's actions caused the failure. PR cannot fix anything when that happens except to work on building reputation knowing that its efforts are likely to be destroyed. Usually, improvement demands change in culture and operations. That requires hard work and leadership may shy from the labor. It takes strong and confident leadership not to be afraid of tinkering with a system that is embedded in the behavior of its employees. These are the leaders who understand what PR is about, even if they don't call it by that name.

Hmmm, both of these scenarios are reactive in nature. There is a third scenario and that is one that has planned for the most likely crises scenarios they will face and use that as a springboard in situations that they have not specifically planned for. It is by far the best of the three.

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