In Response to Recent Crises, says Crisis PR Preparation Vital

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Crisis PR planning is a vital tool to identify, correct & contain problems.

Companies should examine their operations as if a news reporter were along on the review.... turning early negatives into continuing positives by correcting potential problems.

A communications expert says that damaged brand images and reputations are often the result of inadequate preparation to manage crisis, as he called for top management to support effective Crisis PR planning.

Brian Dobson of Dobson Communications, a firm expert in brand and crisis public relations, said, “Systematic crisis PR planning is a vital management tool for companies to identify, correct and contain problems that may not otherwise readily surface.”

“Global leadership is not a deterrent to crisis. Companies large and small should be attuned to handling crisis effectively if one breaks,” he said.

Many top companies failed on the crisis PR front in early stages of media coverage. For example, BP tried to minimize its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Toyota was unclear about issues leading to a several car recalls, Mattel took too long to face media reports of leaded paint and magnet problems in its toy line, Rutgers did not act quickly to make changes with reports of mistreatment of players in its basketball program, Goldman Sachs was criticized for favoring certain clients and benefitting from a public bailout of the industry, and the list goes on,” said Dobson.

“To a large degree, these crises were compounded by management decisions that the public regarded as pushing the bounds of propriety,” he added. “No brand is beyond the corrective reach of public opinion.”

Dobson said crises fade but so too does the luster of top brands. “Bottom line, Goldman is still a top investment bank; Toyota remains a leading car maker; BP is a massive oil company and Rutgers is an excellent university. However, facets of their gleaming reputations may not shine as brilliantly until time and continued performance help regain lost luster.”

Dobson, who has been interview about crisis PR by CNN TV and other media, says, “Companies should examine their operations as if a news reporter were along on the review, notwithstanding propriety matters of a competitive nature. Turning early negatives into continuing positives by correcting potential problems in the earliest stages may improve operations and employee morale.”

“Crisis PR planning is important to every management team,” he said. “When heading PR at a Fortune 50, I was on the crisis committee that reviewed potential problems in a variety of operations. The process led to early fixes of problems before they escalated. Planning might not stop a crisis, but it helps to better handle one when it hits.”

Dobson explained that “crisis begets crisis. The movement of crisis can in part be forecast. From supplier and distributors reaction to customer outrage and increased regulatory oversight and industry review, each crisis leads to others and management needs to be fast, effective and in control to limit and repair brand damage.”

Based in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and online at, Dobson Communications managed a variety of brand building PR campaigns in sectors from toys and food to licensing and high tech, and handled PR in major crises for companies such as a tobacco firm in the UK, a Japanese pharmaceutical and nutritional products company, Japan’s then leading supplier of blood, a major US food company and others, in addition to its brand building PR. provides media training preparedness at its video studio, part of JHD-Dobson, where it also produces product videos for companies. For information contact Barbara Green at 203-894-9240 or BarbaraGreen (at)

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Barbara Green
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