Crying Wolf Pt. 3 – How to Prevent the Situation from Spiraling into a Crisis

Erik Bernstein crisis management


[Editor’s note: This compelling blog series comes to us from international crisis management expert and Bernstein Crisis team member Tim Scerba.]

How to Prevent the Situation from Spiraling into a Crisis

Once a situation exists that has the potential to become a crisis, there are specific conditions that can magnify and convert it into a true crisis.  These are:

  • The lack of any advance notice or indication that something was about to happen
  • Conversations and other “noise” within or without the company about the situation
  • A lack of verifiable and/or accurate information about the event

These criteria mean that if only one or two of the conditions exist, the situation does not necessarily need to – or will – reach crisis status.  In this case, the company can more readily contain and control the situation and have a higher probability of containing, controlling and recuperating without having to activate the full CMT and all crisis response protocols.

For example, an oil refinery can anticipate the majority of events that could take place in its day-to-day operation and thereby reduce the element of surprise by being prepared to contain, manage and recuperate from any of these events before it would reach crisis level. In the same way, should there be an incident, the refinery can immediate release pre-approved information (or even do so before an incident), allowing it to “fill the information vacuum” before rumors and speculation take over.

The moral of the story is to not be like the boy who cried wolf if there really is no crisis but to be fully prepared to manage and recuperate from one when these it.

Did you miss Crying Wolf Pt. 1 – When a Crisis Really Isn’t? Click here.

Ready for Crying Wolf Pt. 2 – The Elements of a Crisis? Click here.

Tim Scerba is a recognized international strategic corporate and marketing communications expert with extensive experience in all aspects of crisis and sensitive issues management, including risk audits, team preparation and simulation training, crisis inoculation and active situation management and recovery. His sector work includes aviation, food and beverage, construction, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, manufacturing and consumer products.