No Need To Panic: Crisis Communication Strategies [National Conference Recap]

IMG_9553Session: No Need To Panic: Crisis Communication Strategies

Presenters: Peter M. Macias, Director of Communications at American Red Cross

Evan Nierman, Principal at Red Banyan Group

Recap: A crisis can be any situation or event that has the potential to impact your brand in a negative way. As communicators within our organization, we have the responsibility to be prepared for any crisis in order to protect our organization.

“You have the responsibility to affix yourself as a leader in your organization. In a crisis you will be responsible for your organization and to the public,” said Macias. “The quality of your messaging will dictate everything.”

The best way to combat a crisis is to take every preemptive measure to predict it before it happens. This can easily be done through a SWOT analysis of your organization. Then, develop a crisis kit. A good crisis kit will identify crucial messaging points, a trained spokesperson and key points of contact.

When your organization is hit with a crisis, there are a few key concepts to remember.

  1. Own your message. If you do not speak first, someone else will.
  2. Do not  lie. You will always get caught in a lie and it will ruin your credibility.
  3. Do what you say you are going to do.
  4. Avoid absolutes. Never state an overly definitive statement that can cause you to be caught in a lie.
  5. Choose the right spokesperson. The right spokesperson will humanize the situation and connect with your audience.

“Crises are not always a bad thing. A crisis is an opportunity for you to affect change within your organization. It is an opportunity for you to tell your story and position your message where you want it,” said Nierman.  


  • Be prepared for a crisis before it happens.
  • Speak first and be honest.
  • A crisis is not always a bad thing. It is an opportunity to affect change.
  • Be first. Be right. Be credible.
  • The importance of your message is the backbone of everything.

Kate Friedel is graduate student and PRSSA 2015–2016 Chapter president at the University of Memphis.You can email her at, connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @KatetheGre8.

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