crisisI wanted to share this interesting article I found on the Web site for Guidestar, an online information source regarding non-profit organizations. 

The article is titled, “Blood in The Water: Why you WILL Face a Media Crisis and What You Can Do About it.” 

It shares the perspective that crises are inevitable so you better have a plan.

Of course, professional communicators know that whether non-profit or for-profit, bad things happens.  As long as businesses are lead by human beings and human beings work at businesses and human beings continue to make mistakes, crises that may damage your corporate reputation, strain valuable relationships or disrupt your business will happen.

So, it’s not if your business will face a crisis, but when.

Check out these two examples in the Guidestar article:


  • Larry Small, brought in as secretary from Fannie Mae, gives himself perks to which he was accustomed in the private sector that are way out of line for a national nonprofit with 70 percent federal funding.
  • The media uncover this, and there is unrelenting bad coverage, driving Congressional hearings and pressure.
  • Small is gone, and the reputations of the Smithsonian and its board are heavily tarnished.

Red Cross:

  • Mark Everson, brought in as CEO from running the IRS to great acclaim, has an affair with a Red Cross official in the field, technically within his chain of command.
  • The media uncover this, and there is unrelenting bad coverage, driving Congressional pressure.
  • Everson is gone, and the Red Cross, reeling from previous turnover at the top, is very hard pressed to raise funds even in the wake of Hurricane Ike, causing reductions in its ability to serve and major layoffs.

The article goes on to share some detailed and specific advice for nonprofit organizations.  The same advice applies to for-profits.  It’s a really good list.

So, recognize that you WILL have a crisis – every business does – and put a plan in place.  Those who survive the crisis and, often, even deepen their relationships and strengthen the trust placed in them, are usually the ones who had a plan.

Post by Nick Vehr – 7.31.09