“The Golden Hour”: Protect your company’s reputation in the first few minutes of a crisis

James E. Lukaszewski

James Lukaszewski, ABC, APR

There are plenty of examples of how not to manage a crisis. But is there a way that a communicator can pull their company out of a downward reputational spiral, when the company has caused harm? According to James Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, there is. And it starts with your victims.

Once a crisis is identified, make your victims your immediate concern. And by victims, we don’t mean your company. Lukaszewski notes that those who fail to manage crises properly often experience “victim confusion” and feel that they are the victims, rather than the people or animals harmed. Recognizing that there are more important issues at stake than just your company’s reputation and doing all you can to alleviate those problems is the first step to ensuring the crisis doesn’t mar you forever.

Lukaszewski provides five steps to follow, all of which, he says, have to be initiated within the first 60–120 minutes, or, “the Golden Hour”:

  1. Make sure no one else gets hurt because of your mistakes
  2. Be where the victims and survivors are: Put a member of your senior team in the hospitals and communities, making sure those affected have everything they need.
  3. Communicate with employees and other important stakeholders: Otherwise, they’ll say what they think you would say—which might not be what you want them to say.
  4. Notify the indirectly affected: These are the neighbors, regulators, etc. who, as Lukaszewski says, “Have a problem because you have a problem.”purple_play_button
  5. Manage traditional and new media: Everyone, journalist or not, has the power to have their opinions heard. Make sure you have an effective media strategy so that other narratives don’t override steps 1–4.

For more crisis management dos and don’ts, listen to our complete interview with Lukaszewski. You can learn even more tips during his session at World Conference, “Three Killer Crisis Scenario Solutions.”