[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]
Jack Welch is a former chair and CEO at General Electric. His “Five Stages of Crisis Management” along with hundreds of other words of wisdom on crisis communication are contained in The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook for (all) Strategic Communicators. Check it out.
1. Denial – Denial in the face of disaster is human. It is the main
and immediate emotion people feel at the receiving end of any
really bad news. That doesn’t excuse any official from not reacting
quickly and staying “in front of the story.” Rather than denial,
the reaction should be forthright, calm, fierce and bold.
2. Containment – In companies and other organizations, containment
usually plays out with leaders trying to keep the “matter”
quiet – a total waste of energy. All problems, and especially
messy ones, eventually get out and explode.
3. Shame-mongering – This is a period in which all stakeholders
fight to get their side of the story told, with themselves as the
heroes at the center.
4. Blood on the floor – Too many times, officials believe that
someone has to pay for the crisis with his or her head.
5. Galvanizing effect – The fifth and final part of the pattern – the
best part – is the awareness raised by a crisis.