It’s always interesting to see how the media usually understands crisis and how it can be lived and diced.

This tendency has us learning about social media crises, PR crises and, in the excerpt below from Campaign, a cybersecurity crisis.”

Culture leaves many Asian companies unprepared for a cybersecurity crisis
Strict adherence to hierarchy means Asian companies have been slow improve crisis planning around information-security, according to FireEye’s global comms chief.

Asian brands continue to make slow progress in cybersecurity crisis planning, due to the lack of awareness about the issue and continued mistakes around how to respond, according to Vitor D’Souza, vice president of global communications at security-software provider FireEye.

D’Souza said that in almost every case of a cybersecurity breach that FireEye has been involved with in Asia, “in terms of communications planning, they did not have any at all”.

“They would have what they would call a ‘business continuity plan’, which is totally different,” he said. “It has nothing to do with crisis.” Coupled with this lack of preparation is a tendency in Asia to cling rigidly to company hierarchy in a crisis, which can be a big mistake if the person handling the crisis is not the most knowledgeable about the situation.

“In Asia, company hierarchy is very important,” D’Souza told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “What I see a lot is that there’s this immediate push toward the chairman or CEO to handle the crisis. But the education of the C-Suite in Asia regarding cybersecurity, just in terms of awareness, is not at the same level as other regions.”

Brand reputation can be severely damaged if a top-level executive is put before the media without sufficient knowledge of the crisis, and it is done to the communications team to ensure that does not happen, said D’Souza.

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Such distinctions are misleading. The way we see it at Maverick wither your company is facing a crisis or it isn’t. If you’re facing one it doesn’t matter if the action is being played out in social media, on the internet or in the conventional media, you have a crisis. That’s it.

We think that the difficulty the media has is in its careless use of the word “crisis”. To them, any incident that may impact the reputation and/or the bottom line of a company or brand is a crisis. While this definition is not necessarily wrong, it is too simplistic.

Under this definition five or even 50 people tweeting bad things about your company could constitute a crisis. Yet common sense suggests it’s not yet a crisis. What about 200? Maybe yes or not. Often its not yet a crisis if the people tweeting about it aren’t influential. This is the case especially in Indonesia where the swarm moves from topic to topic with the attend span of a gnat. Responding to such tweets may escalate the issue instead of doing something positive for the brand.

So when can an incident be clarified as a crisis?  In our opinion, the key to the answer to that question lies with the cord CONTROL. A company is in a crisis-like situation when it has already lost control of a situation or is in imminent danger of losing control.

If you go by this definition, crisis management is then the art and science of bringing control back to the company facing a crisis-like situation. We feel that the wild be a more intelligent approach to crisis management rather than classifying it into a PR crisis or Social Media Crisis or Cybersecurity Crisis.

A crisis is a crisis. What you need to bring under control or to restore control to the situation is a  carefully selected and well trained core crisis management team (which should normally not be helmed by the CEO, because someone has to run the company even during a crisis) and pre-planned response plans and SOPs so that the team has access to pertinent and verified facts, able to analyze them and take the necessary actions, including effective communications, to bring the situation under control.

 

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