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Annie Hayes



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HR brings in crisis training to tackle credit crunch


A hike in crisis training is the result of HR bosses turning to media tactics as a way of dealing with the economic downturn.

Ann Alexander of Alexander Macdonald, a media training consultancy, said: “There is a real paranoia in certain sectors that their firm’s failings will be highlighted in the media and they will be tainted by a Northern Rock-style media trial.

“A perception that a company is struggling or has even gone under is a real threat to businesses and management teams know it. We’ve seen a threefold increase in the number of clients who are requesting crisis management training to protect themselves as best as they can from hostile probings by business journalists.”

Macdonald offers the following 10 tips for managing a credit crunch crisis:

1. Don’t crawl under a stone hoping the issue will go away. Equally, don’t make any hasty defensive comments.

2. Investigate quickly to establish if the story is true. Ensure you know all the facts before responding but remember speed is of the essence.

3. Make sure someone is available to speak to the press – ideally someone with seniority and not a press officer, as this will show that the issue is being taken seriously. Ensure that they are fully briefed and know how to deal with the media.

4. Don’t ever try to outsmart the media with smart or facetious comment and never, ever say ‘no comment’. You’ll only make things worse.

5. Acknowledge public concern, even if you think it is misplaced. In a media crisis, the public is always right.

6. Actions speak louder than words. The public does not want statements and press releases so always respond decisively – you must be seen to take swift action.

7. Make sure that you communicate with your key audiences – the customers and clients who will be affected by the story – on a more personal basis than through the press.

8. Discover which areas of your business are vulnerable to negative press coverage and prepare a plan in advance.

9. Have a crisis management plan ready that deals with the practical side of coping under the media spotlight. The plan should detail who will make the decisions and who will take calls from the media. Can your current press or publicity officer cope? Do you need extra help?

10. If you do have a plan, make sure you get it – common sense and intuition are fine but they need to be backed up with experience and expertise from a professional.

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Annie Hayes


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