Crises and Issues Management

Foreward by Prof. Jerry Gana
Preface by Senator J. M. Kuye
Financial Environment
Public Finance
Financial Institutions
Public Relations Concepts
Financial Public Relations
Marketing Concepts
Advertising and Integrated Communication
In-House and Consultancy
Target Publics
Research in PR
Budgeting in PR
Planning in PR
Regulating Financial Information
Getting Started and PR Unit
Basic Functions
Requirement for Media Event
Annual Events
Social Responsibility
Information Technology
Reputation Management
Crises Management
Media of FPR
Corporate Identification
Building Brand
Membership of Professional Bodies
Conduct and Ethical Standards
Appendix NIPR Code
Appendix II: IPR Code
Appendix III: PRSA Code
Appendix IV: IPRA Code
Contributions and Reviews


One of the major contributions of public relations is in curtailing and managing issues and crises before, during and after they might have occurred. Through anticipating trends, issues and events that will destroy the reputation of the organisation, effective communication management provides public affairs solution to reduce negative impacts of a public outcry as attempts are made to influence the behaviour of stakeholders.


It is unfortunate that many organisations fail to appreciate the value of their Public Relations Officers as they often resort to fire brigade approaches at the dying minutes. This unbecoming attitude may be due to the failure of the management to take the image-maker in confidence. It is quite disturbing that it is only after the eruption of crisis that companies seek the skill of the crises manager to provide his professional services.


Disasters, which are accidental, occur unexpectedly in the productive sector of the economy like in factories and industrial sites. Most, if not all, are due to carelessness and failure to put in place an emergency team and precautionary measure to avert escalation of the precarious imbroglio.


Financial crises are predictable and can be averted once the Public Relations Manager is able to monitor trends and happenings in the operations environment of the organisation. A typical major financial crisis was the distress in the banking sectors in the 90s when many banks were closed down and their Chief Executives prosecuted for unethical practices. Needless to say that the turn of events also affected some insurance firms and reputable chartered accounting firms which were expected to audit the accounts of some of these financial institutions.


This financial crisis also resulted in the ultimate option of giving out these businesses through take over bids of the firms, which are attainable by means of merger and acquisition or lighter approach of diversification of investments.


In a public institution, any problem that arises from fiscal or monetary disequilibrium or distortion in budgetary provision, is considered an economic crisis. It is that period when the citizens and/or through the media, cry out against the government’s inefficiency in the face of galloping inflation, foreign exchange instability, capital flight, high rate of unemployment and other related economic problems which may bring down the image of the government of the day, unless appropriate actions are taken to remedy the problems.


In all of the above, what is needed in the face of those crises while decision is being made is that, the public needs timely and correct information from the organisation or the body responsible for the problem. And the best bet is to allow the Public Relations persons take charge of the situation.


Technically, the use of public relations manager in the event of crises is to advise the management on the best steps to take in winning back public confidence and acceptability. This is also to seek for their sympathy and support in the face of the challenges. In addition, it is expected that the department should delegate the responsibility of reaching out to the public through appropriate information network. This network may include the use of trained telephone receptionists to respond to enquiries and for senior officers to visit relevant institutions and publics to explain the situation at hand.  


But most importantly, the public relations officer should be able to handle a hostile public and aggressive media enquiries as this is always the time when tension rises higher. Protests and demonstrations are very likely at such critical periods when the relevant publics are disenchanted with the way and manner the organisation responds.


According to Di Burton, there are four stages (techniques) of handling difficult aggressive personalities. These, he said, include giving them time to cool down. This is by talking to them, as they are relaxed and in positive moods. Before approaching them, some specific ways to gain their attention should be prepared. This is by breaking good news, compensation and rewards or improvement in the service of the organisation to them. The manager should also acknowledge the aspects of their ideas that he believes are true and/or important. This acknowledgment does not necessarily mean agreement.


The essence of this is to diffuse some of their aggression and make them more open to organisation’s stand. And lastly, the Public Relations Manager should hold his ground and stand up for his organisation’s position. This can be achieved by consistently backing down or giving ideas to appease them, as they will not tend to reinforce their aggression.  




In the face of financial crises, the management should give the public relations department the full support to operate and discharge its duties satisfactorily. It is expected that the officer must have acquainted himself fully with the event through media reports and clips. As an insider too, he has an option of either getting out from the problems by his healthy relationship with other management staff or by an effective monitoring of the company’s services and products and its operations within a given community to be able to predict and foresee.


Since crisis is always viewed as an unexpected occurrence, a time of great difficulty when immediate and important decisions must be made, the only friend to turn to is the PR man who is saddled with the responsibility of getting and retaining public confidence.


 In a crisis situation, Michael Blend, advises  that the public relations person should be prepared at all times and make sure the following are observed and undertaken:


(a). Preparation: The organisation should maintain contact with its host community at all times. These will include the opinion leaders and the regulatory authorities.


(b). Crisis Room: A special team or think-tank should be in the organisation. Apart from the Chief Executive who should lead the team in deliberating and seeking the way out, the team should include the public relations man, legal adviser, and the head of operation or officer-in-charge of the issue at hand. It is recommended that the crisis room must be an isolated environment with minimal interference and distraction.


(c). Resources: When crisis erupts, there is a tendency to receive large crowds, who may be the organisation’s target audience, trooping in or trying to get in contact with the organisation by all means. The organisation should provide telephone numbers, mailbox, special e-mail address and relevant items that may be required to douse the tension. Also, some staff should be designated to receive and respond politely to all enquiries as they come in.


(d). Message: The spokesperson, if necessary the Chief Executive, may address the public through appropriate media. It may be in form of press-releases, paid adverts or through press conferences. The message should be designed in such a way that it gives assurance, tenders an apology where necessary and seeks sympathy and goodwill while expressing, in an honest and polite manner, the possible reason for the development. This is the main stage of all crises management, that is informing the public truthfully and honestly on the situation to avoid rumour mongering and gossips that may compound the already critical situation.


(e). Target: As in any public relations stages, the target audience of the organisation must be known. But in crisis situation, not only are the relevant audience but large targets considered too for their understanding. Therefore, the targets include stakeholders, local community, pressure groups, the government and the media.


At all crises situations, it is the responsibility of the PR Unit to make sure that its communication technique has a timely and precise quality, so as to build goodwill amongst its general public, showing care and concern. While anticipating action from pressure groups, whose approach may be highly demanding, a crisis management team should be raised and trained on-the-spot. The more reliable hands are involved, the better the representation to reach wider targets.

You may reach the author at or visit another related website: