The Ten Golden Rules of Crisis Management


We live in complicated, uncertain times for brands and organizations.

The dizzying speed of communication, the growing skepticism of institutions of authority and the mass adoption of social media have changed radically the context by which we plan for and manage crises.

Recently we hosted a webinar with our promotional partner, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), during which we took all the great content from our recently published e-Book, The New Rules of Crisis Management’, already downloaded more than 1800 times, and boiled down the ten golden rules of crisis management in the digital age.

We thought we would share those top ten rules – and ask you to let us know what we missed.

We promise to publish your thoughts in this blog.

So here’s our Top Ten:

1.  The need for speed: Crises escalate at lightning speed, often driven by social media.

Case study – United Airlines delayed response to Dr Dao.

2.  Brands must be authentic in good times and bad: During a crisis it is crucial to reflect and embrace the brand’s core values and voice.

Case study – KFC’s inspired apology for the lack of chicken.

3.  Understand the new role of ‘old’ media: People no longer care about ‘facts’ so much as whether news supports their own beliefs.

Case study – Facebook’s battles to combat Fake News.

4.  More collaboration between communications & legal: The legal implications of the growing use of digital platforms are yet to be fleshed out – communicators must be careful.

Case study – Kanye West faces lawsuits following launch of ‘Tidal’

5.  Employees are one of your most important audiences:Treat employees as a priority and they could become your messengers and advocates.

Case study – Starbucks & the racial diversity training

6.  Empower the crisis team with digital tools & resources: Social media is a two-way process during the crisis – and your plans & resources must be accessible via a digital platform such as In Case of Crisis.

Case study – Southwest’s response to its first on-board fatality.

7.  Data & Analytics can prevent a crisis – and guide the response: 36m negative brand posts a day – you need to know which ones are important.

Case study – Infamous Bic pen solution to the Kryptonite bike lock

8.  Brands must anticipate social, cultural and political issues: Greater expectations that brands must ‘stand for something’ – yet we live in an age in which issues polarize along political lines

Case study – Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner video and the Black Lives Matter movement.

9.  The soundbite is even more important: With the short attention span of the public and media, it has never been more important to capture your story concisely and in a compelling way.

Case study – Ambien’s clever Roseanne tweet

10.  Have an up-to-date crisis plan: For all the reasons listed above in rules 1 through 9!

Case study – Equifax’s bungled response to its massive data leak

So which golden rule would you add to the list?

Send us your thoughts to

We’ll review all your suggestions in a future blog.