Crisis management: speed or preparation?

The power of knowledge when every second counts.

This weekend summertime officially starts. That means spending an hour less in bed or an hour less at work if you're on the night shift. This is not really an issue for most of us, but that same hour can be crucial for spokespersons and PR officers in crisis situations. The question is: what will they do with their time? Will they opt for speed or will they decide to prepare?

It is important to be on top of things, certainly in crisis situations. A ‘lost’ hour means less time for you to prepare for critical questions from journalists and angry citizens.

The importance of fast communication was demonstrated last week when the Netherlands forced the Turkish minister of Family Affairs to leave the country. The very same evening, it led to major escalation at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. The following morning, only a few hours later, Mark Rutte expressed his opinion about the matter on the morning news programme ‘WNL Op Zondag’.
Considering the proximity of the elections, it was important for Rutte to quickly react to the situation. And he was able to do this because he had been informed about the latest developments. This demonstrated that speed and preparation are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Resignation after fraud
However, things couldn't have been more different for Secretary Wiebes, who kept hitting the headlines due to problems at the Dutch Tax Authority. Wiebes was so slow in dealing with things that Zembla (TV programme) was able to film a documentary about the Tax Authority. That such negative media attention could lead to resignation had already been demonstrated by an official in Rotterdam, who was guilty of fraud in the Waterfront platform. The official was said to have completely ignored a report from 2010, which had raised the issue of fraud.

The common theme is clear: every second counts in a society with 24/7 news reporting. This means a real tsunami of information is encountered, which has made the job of PR specialist almost impossible. The traditional role of journalists as gatekeepers has definitely changed. In addition, many people automatically think that speed and preparation cannot go hand in hand.

Heart of the matter
Monalyse believes that speed and preparation can work side by side if appropriate support is provided. As a media analyst, I supply relevant information to organisations during crisis situations, e.g. using our Media Summary. This media overview only features the most important news items, along with a summary per article. This summary outlines the heart of the matter and highlights passages which are most relevant to the customer. The main advantage of this Media Summary is that it stops valuable time being lost on preparations during crisis situations. As a result, speed and preparation end up working in harmony. 

Managing Director
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