Common mistakes

There are five things top management should never do, according to Bill Patterson, president of Reputation Management Associates, when experiencing a crisis or when one is about to occur:

1. Say it is the public relations person’s problem.

The smart, modern business executive understands reputation management, or PR, is everyone’s responsibility.

2. Worse yet, have no public relations person on staff.

In a crisis situation, if the CEOs are not responsive to the media and they have no PR person, who talks for the company? The answer is nobody.

3. Decide the crisis is an internal problem and endorse the stonewalling philosophy.

This is the most important time in your business career to be candid and open. In most cases, the perception of your company is established in the first few hours after a crisis. Usually the news media are the ones who set that perception. Equip them with the facts.

4. Make “no comment” the official policy for dealing with media.

PR News cites a survey showing 65 percent of the public takes “no comment” as an admission of guilt.

5. Have a crisis plan that simply contains phone numbers of people to notify.

A good crisis communication plan should give exact detail about what each management person is to do in the first hour, the first day, even the first week following a crisis, as well as what follow-up will be done.