Archive for December 15th, 2009

Twelve tips of Christmas: #5 Use the slow period to your advantage (part 1)

So far we’ve looked at a number of suggestions to help make your yuletide crisis management as simple and pain-free as possible. However when it comes to best practice crisis management, the smart money is always on prevention being far preferable to the cure – so that’s what we’re looking at here.

For the moment, let’s assume that anything that’s going to go wrong between December 20 and January 10 is probably still going to. It’s no good having a coronary over it, so let’s look at a happier, healthier future. One with lower blood pressure.

Preparation, for crisis managers, takes into account both procedures and people. We’ll look at the latter in this post, as the people you rely on are, ironically, more fallible than your procedures (a procedure’s a procedure – so long as someone follows it, there’s not much more you can ask of it – a bit like blaming a calculator if your numbers don’t add up).

However, January (winter generally) is a brilliant time to nab people for their regular training updates. The weather’s rubbish so it’s no fun to travel, everyone’s a little sluggish after the holidays, and it’s usually easier to get into diaries – both at your end and also with your training providers.

Our head trainer, Catherine Cross, says we’re already seeing several clients planning their winter to include things like media training, refresher courses for spokespeople who may have gone a little rusty after a period of inactivity, and even a number of crisis simulations. Now’s the perfect time to schedule in your team’s training requirements for the start of 2010. If you’d like to talk to one of our team, you can contact Catherine directly here, or call us on 020 7413 3000.

Twelve tips of Christmas: #4 Enhance your monitoring to avoid unpleasant Christmas surprises

We’ve touched on this briefly in earlier posts, but a reminder from our friends at Dow Jones Factiva suggested this was worth revisiting in its own right.

With staff away and out of contact, it’s easy to lose one of your best sources of informal business intelligence – the office grapevine. Because the day-to-day interactions between staff are so significantly curtailed over the holiday season, the rumour mill tends to grind if not to a halt, then into a very lazy holding pattern.

Unfortunately this also means that those little, niggling issues that are only ever picked up through such informal channels will tend to slip through the cracks.

Without this channel in place, some of those issues are more likely to escalate, and particularly in the case of customer service issues we usually see that “escalation” means they find their way into local (and occasionally national) media – and once a small issue breaks as “news” it’s no longer a small issue.

That being the case, now is the ideal time to get in touch with your media monitoring account manager (or PR team if they handle your monitoring), and run through your current keywords to see if there are any others you should be adding.

Additionally, take a minute to consider whether you need to increase the frequency of your monitoring – do you need alerts a couple of times a day, or is once a day enough? Is your regular clipping service suitable for your needs, or should you supplement it with online tools such as Google Alerts? Or do you need something more sophisticated again, in which case, it’s worth having a chat to either your existing agency or Hill & Knowlton’s digital specialists about what kind of real-time monitoring tools they can provide you with.

Remember – at this time of year, your speed of response is already hampered (no pun intended!) by holiday diaries; re-claim some of your time margin by getting ahead of the issues as early as possible.