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Crisis Communications for Product Stewards

​By Andrew Brown

The best time to prepare for a crisis is before it happens. “I say this generally – a crisis is self-inflicted. It’s something an organization failed to do or did improperly or overlooked,” says David Henderson, a communications consultant and Emmy Award winning former CBS Network News correspondent. 



Product stewards already contribute to crisis prevention by evaluating risks and identifying potential problems before they turn into public relations disasters. Still, crises come in all shapes and sizes, so being able to respond with appropriate and effective communications is equally important. 

In today’s media environment, credibly crafted words and visuals can positively how affect what’s said about your organization during a crisis situation. “An organization can expeditiously turn around a crisis situation by skillfully managing the news story and angles,” says Henderson. 

A first step is to ask the question ‘Who cares?’ 

“If you apply those words to a lot of crisis situations, they really have meaning. For example, in supply chain communications during a crisis, you need to back up and say, who is really concerned about this,” says Henderson. “If your product fails to show up on store shelves, the buyers, the truck drivers, the suppliers – those are the people you need to think about. They want to hear confidence. They want to hear you’ve got it under control.”

Henderson will share his expert advice at Product Stewardship 2017. During the closing keynote speech Crisis Never Takes a Day Off in the Digital Era, sponsored by ERM, he’ll outline the tenets of crisis communications preparedness and management, regardless of a possible scenario. He’ll also share examples of how inept crisis management is costly to an organization’s reputation.

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