A crisis is an event, accusation or perception that seriously threatens the reputation- and, if not dealt with effectively- the viability of an organisation. There are essentially 2 main types of crisis. The first is what might be called a real crisis. Someone has been hurt or even killed. A product has failed in a way that is at best convenient to customers or others and at worst damaging. The second type of crisis is a reputational crisis. In this instance something happens, or is alleged, that lowers trust, respect and liking for the organisation.
The two main types of crisis can be subdivided into 4 categories:
1. Performance Crises (Fault, Fire and Theft): This is when an organisation fails to perform properly. Typically examples include when products have to be recalled, accidents and injury occur, laws have been broken or private data has been lost. Simplistically this category can be called Fault, Fire and Theft. Most of these tyoes of crisis can be foreseen, even if the timing and circumstances cannot.
2. Disaster Crisis: These are totally unexpected and virtually impossible to plan for. They include ‘one in a million’ crises such as a plane crushing into your building or a gunman running amok in your office or store. However, they may be difficult to plan for.
3. Attack Crisis: These occur when someone such as journalist, member of staff or activist is out to get your organisation. They may focus on internal disputes, poor management practice and controversial leaked documents. Noone may have been hurt and no laws may have been broken but the credibility of your organisation is under sttack.
4. Moral Crisis: Some industries are in the unfortunate position of facing criticism for being in existence. Tobacco companies are one obvious example but oil companies and fast food companies have also come under the spotlight. These are sort of companies and industries that often seem to have the word ‘evil’ attached to them, as as the example of fast food indicates, ideas on what constitutes ‘evil’ can shift over time, so vigilance is required. Whatever such comopanies do or say someone is going to hate them.
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