When Crisis comes knocking

By Raihan Hadi

Contrary to the title, crisis rarely comes knocking, and usually arrives when we are least prepared to tackle it, helping itself through the door. When the recent flood hit our doors in Malaysia, most of us were clueless about what to do and how to help those near us. 

The continuous downpour that resulted in the unexpected flooding of such gigantic proportions in many states, made people almost forget that we’ve been tackling the pandemic as well. 

Following the floods, a series of PR crises rolled out nationwide in the media – pointing out the lack of efficiency in managing communications for the crisis, among other factors. This lack of communication resulted in delays to receive help as well. 

These are the times that make us wonder – what if we could manage things a little differently, a little better? What if we knew how to manage the communications for such situations of crisis more efficiently?

Let’s have a look at the BP Oil Rig Explosion incident as an example of how not having a crisis communication strategy can lead an organisation down the rabbit hole (sourced from Influential).  

In 2010, the Gulf Coast was hit by a huge oil rig explosion, and it remains to be the biggest oil spill in the history of the USA. Lasting 87 days with an estimated 130 million gallons of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. It was a catastrophe that not only claimed 11 human lives, but also devastated the ocean and the wildlife living in it.

BP was dishonest with the facts initially released by them, stating that the oil rig was leaking up to 1,000 barrels of oil a day. That number was later found to be closer to 5,000. BP also then attempted to subtly shift the blame and diminish their significant role in the crisis via a press release stating that the oil rig belonged to Transocean Ltd.

BP’s CEO Tony Hayward appeared in many interviews over the 87 days and is now renowned for making several comments which demonstrate a badly structured crisis communications strategy. Eventually it was his resignation that was offered in an attempt to try and salvage the brand.

Tony was the spokesperson in this crisis, however, it is needless to say how poorly prepared he was when addressing this disaster. Preparation and strong key communications are key factors to consider when tackling PR crises. Failure to do so can completely damage an organisation’s reputation in one sweep; one inappropriate/misworded sentence can have a significant negative effect on a company’s reputation. 

Can you learn how to manage communications for a crisis? 

In the journey to discover an appropriate course for crisis communication management, and to my delight, I found one at our very own Taylor’s University. 

Without further ado, I went on and had a chat with Ms. Marzura Abdul Malek, lecturer in the Taylor’s University School of Media and Communications, as she happens to be the coordinator for the Taylor’s MicroCreds professional online short courses on both Risk and Crisis Communication Management. 

During our conversation, Marzura emphasised that when faced with a difficult predicament, organisations must quickly identify the crisis and take steps to minimise the impact, while working on a solution. 

“Remember that it’s not just about communicating to external stakeholders, you must also think about the internal employees and communicate with them using appropriate communication platforms”, she said. 

We spoke about how communication was managed during early days of the pandemic by the Ministry of Health, Malaysia, where she stated, “They understood the importance of communicating to the public and the media about the breakout of COVID-19 in March 2020. They were quick and precise in disseminating information to the public.” 

While larger organisations may benefit from crisis communication professionals, there are opportunities for the everyday person to upskill and equip themselves with such knowledge and insight through such short microcredential programmes, and Taylor’s University happens to be offering a lot of them! 

Given how rapidly news spreads and is bent by people on social media nowadays, it is very important to have management and communication skills that can greatly benefit any business owner, company employee, or even an individual seeking to navigate potential pitfalls of their personal branding and reputation. 

The Taylor’s MicroCreds programme is offering courses in various relevant fields of study and this encompasses Strategic Leadership & Management, Entrepreneurship, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Cybersecurity, Digital Design, Communication Management, Education Technology and Hospitality Data Analytics among others. 

Professor Dr Pradeep Nair, the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer at Taylor’s University spoke on the importance of upskilling through microcredentials saying that, “By 2030, we will see 4.5 million people losing their jobs in Malaysia. That is approximately 25% of the workforce in the country.” 

“Fortunately, new jobs that are emerging are those that can co-exist with technology, hence the need for working adults to upskill or reskill not just for career progression but to keep their jobs,” added Prof Dr Pradeep. 

Thinking about becoming the next champion in crisis and risk management in your organisation or exploring new skills to level up your career? Just visit https://bit.ly/TaylorsMicroCreds-CommsMgmt to find out more.

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