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Argenti raises many sound points regarding the proper protocol during crisis management. The bulk of chapter ten demonstrates a sound understanding of how crises unfold, and how every crisis is different. While this is true, there are still strong areas of overlap among crises. "Few circumstances test a company's reputation or competency as severely as a crisis. Whether the impact is immediate or sustained over months and years, a crisis affects stakeholders within and outside of a company" (Weiner, 2006). In such a case, clients cancel orders and cancel subscriptions. Employees start asking questions or worse, quitting. Competitors start circling like sharks and government agencies and other regulators often start knocking, with attorneys at their heel (Weiner, 2006). Given all the aggravated circumstances connected to a crisis and the variety of ways that any potential crisis could be handled, Argenti makes a continually strong and pervasive argument about how to handle such circumstances (Weiner, 2006).
One of the most solid and simple points that Argenti raises is the fact that "the first step in preparing for a crisis is to understand that any organization can be involved in a crisis at any time, regardless of the industry. Argenti does acknowledge that certain industries (such as those in the oil, mining, energy or packaged goods arenas) are more prone to crises than other organizations; really any company is at risk. Once one acknowledges that all companies are at risk, and one can agree that one's own company is also at risk, and then one can begin to prepare realistically and strategically to beat the crisis. As Argenti illuminates, a 2011 study on Crisis Preparedness demonstrates that 79% of business leaders believed that their companies were 12 months away from a potential crisis.
Another valid point that Argenti makes is that a company should predetermine the exact method of communication during a crisis and stick to it. This way, employees will know what to expect and will be able to anticipate how to act and engage during a crisis. This will allow employees to know what channels of information will be open during a crisis and which will be shut. For instance, Argenti asserts that a memo might be too formal for such an event, and encourages the availability of having town hall meetings. I think that the method of communication should be in-person, but it should be fun and creative. In the wake of a crisis, it can be important to keep things light-hearted so that people don't get too stressed or scared. For example, one company that I worked for had a crisis communication meeting scheduled for an exact 24 hours after a crisis under a bridge in the local park. Such a place felt, covert, like everyone was engaging in black-ops activities. We were told to wear black and to carry flashlights. We were told we would only be allowed in if we remembered the secret code. This made the whole event almost seem like an adventure, along with being extremely important.
While we were under the bridge, there was hot chocolate and hot apple cider given out, and our company leaders told us up-to-date information about the crisis and what to do. Not only did all the employees remember all the details about where to meet and what to do, but we all almost looked forward to having this meeting. Argenti could have gone into deeper detail about how to best handle communication within the organization, by going into deeper details about how to reassure employees, how to retain employees and how to discuss talking to the media with employees. During a crisis, all employees need to feel like they're all on the same team: there's a danger that the crisis could become divisive. Communication is a means for preventing that from happening. For instance, at that same company that I worked for which had the crisis meeting underneath the bridge, there was a strong and organized approach to talking to staff members. Everyone felt included, and everyone felt as though all forms of communication brought us close together into a more cohesive team.
Another wise piece of advice revolves around the fact that Argenti advises that a particular company place a different expert or team to be in charge of each crisis. For instance, Argenti argues that if a crisis is more catastrophic, a CEO should be put in charge. This advice demonstrates a certain level of flexibility within the crisis and company; so that the best people are in charge and that the greatest level of expertise is meeting each crisis.
One problematic area of the points that Argenti raises is that he doesn't take a clear stance on media relations. This means that Argenti essentially advises that a company tell as much as they can and as soon as they can. While this might be a good rule of thumb, it's not a strong or even nuanced approach to strong media relations during a crisis. In a time of crisis, one needs to have a strong and detailed approach to the media with a clear picture of precisely how media relations will be handled, not just a good rule of thumb. This is partly because when a crisis or scandal breaks, reporters will start reporting the story whether one likes it or not, reporting as much information as they know, even if the details are fuzzy. "Instead of shutting reporters out and opening the door to speculation, savvy companies understand the media can be their greatest ally. Through the media, companies can minimize mistakes and reach people very quickly. By offering accurate and available information, you appear responsive, credible, concerned and helpful to a reporter who simply wants information to build a story" (Friedman, 2013). Having some sort of response ready to go for the media is important, because they will fill in the gaps themselves, if not. If a company doesn't respond, they appear to have something to hide. Reporters more often than not reflect their own perception and attitude in the way that they write; thus, if there's no information that can be reported, then any company still has an obligation to take control of the story/crisis/scandal by offering up an explanation. Furthermore, if makes the entire company look responsive and cooperative, even if the things you're sharing aren't even all that important.
For instance, during the time I spent working in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill, there were certain decisive points to bear in mind for a crisis: information needs to be provided to the public to minimize the chance of speculation and the likelihood that inaccurate information will be given to the public. Another beacon of insight that I was told was: "Never say 'No Comment.' Instead, tell reporters the situation is still being reviewed and you will have a statement as soon as you have all of the facts" (Friedman, 2013). Other tenets are really important as well and they also involve things like showing compassion and concern for all those involved, an absence of speculation, and a general willingness to report one's bad news. Part of communicating in a crisis means being willing to let everyone find out about what happened and have a clear chance to response to common questions they're likely to make. Furthermore, it looks good if one admits to any mistakes that one has made and explains why the mistake occurred and what one is doing to fix the problem (Friedman, 2013). Also, I've found that it's important to remain on the record as much as possible: if you don't want something discussed.
However, a really important aspect of the points that Argenti makes is that he brings up the necessity of taking immediate steps to prevent another crisis immediately. This is just…[continue]
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