Today’s digital age changes not only the way we communicate but also the speed with which information travels and spreads across different channels and media. It is now close to impossible to identify dangers and threats or to access and analyze information about unfavorable events that have already occurred, without the help of a machine.
Steven Fink, a crisis management pioneer, has identified 4 stages of a crisis: Prodromal Stage, Acute Stage, Chronic Stage, Resolution Stage.
This is the “early warning” period. Sometimes referred to as the “pre-crisis” stage. First warning signs appear, such as negative client feedback, a crisis suffered by a competitor, etc. The continuous daily monitoring of your brand and competitor mentions helps not only when evaluating your brand awareness and the effectiveness of your campaigns, but also with early spotting of warning signs. This provides invaluable lead time to deal with a crisis, should one occur. If the warning signs/symptoms are identified pre-emptively, unfavorable events can be prevented altogether, and the damage minimized. Corporations still underestimate the importance of prevention. Unfortunately, It must be noted that certain problems are impossible to predict.
This is the crisis per se. This stage begins once the situation has begun. How long it continues is a matter of how much additional damage occurs.
When an unfavorable event has already taken place, a fast reaction and measures are of utmost importance when dealing with the issue in hand. In the best-case scenario, a company must issue a statement within one hour in order to avert the danger of media speculation.
Before issuing a statement, PR specialists must collect as much information as possible in as little time as possible and assess all possible scenarios.
Good media monitoring tools can identify and define the origin of the crisis within minutes: where it started, in which channels it is currently active (online, social, broadcast media), what is its geographical and linguistic reach, who are the opinion leaders, what sub-topics are forming, etc.
The Acute Stage is characterized by the volatility of events and information; its tracking is close to impossible without the help of a specialized tool.
This is the peak of the crisis, yet the media and public attention and interest drop drastically. The subject loses its attraction to reporters. Some experts call this the “post-mortem” phase. This is also the period of exploration, doubt, and self-analysis. Monitoring tools allow precise filtering, classification, and visualization of data per period and time frames. Error analysis is important as it helps with the development of best practices and prevention.
The balance within the organization and the public is being restored. French philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin outlines three possible outcomes for organizations that have gone through a crisis: