Navigating Crisis Communications: 8 Golden Rules

This post uncovers the Golden Rules for crisis communications, backed up by a real-world example that illustrates their effectiveness in shaping opinions, rebuilding trust, and creating effective crisis management. These rules adapt to real-life crisis situations, like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

  1. Show Sympathy: Start by genuinely expressing regret and understanding.

BP initially struggled with empathy after the oil rig explosion. However, they improved their communication over time by showing genuine concern for the affected communities and the environment.

  1. Share Facts Clearly: Transparency is crucial. Present facts plainly, without technical jargon.

BP‘s unclear communication about the spill’s scope fueled public anger. They later improved by giving clear, accurate information about the spill’s causes, size, and containment efforts.

  1. Explain Plans: Display leadership and control by outlining your plans.

BP faced criticism for not acting after the explosion. But as the crisis continued, they shared their strategies for stopping the leak and minimizing damage, showing commitment to resolving the issue.

  1. Be Honest: Honesty is a must. Avoid lies and exaggerations.

BP initially struggled with honesty about the spill’s size, which hurt its reputation. As the situation evolved, they became more transparent about their efforts and challenges.

  1. Show Humility: Acknowledge collective efforts. Recognize others’ contributions.

BP found it challenging to cooperate with others but eventually acknowledged the need to work with agencies, organizations, and communities.

  1. Stay Calm: Keep your composure amidst inquiries. Respond respectfully and helpfully to questions.

BP initially struggled to remain composed due to media attention and public anger. They improved by maintaining professionalism while addressing concerns.

  1. Mind Legal Boundaries: Balance legal considerations. Avoid blaming or admitting fault.

BP dealt with complex legal issues, balancing responsibility with transparency and social accountability.

  1. Promise Updates: Assure stakeholders of upcoming information. Ideally, set a specific time for updates.

BP faced difficulty in providing consistent and timely updates during the crisis.

Organizations can manage crises with honesty, clarity, and strength by following these rules. Analyzing the BP Deepwater Horizon example through these rules shows how they influenced the company’s response and handling of the crisis.


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