The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management: A book review by Bob Morris

The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management: How to Manage the Media in the Digital Age
Jane Jordan-Meier
CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group (2011)

“Truth, well-told” and carefully managed

Decades ago, one of the co-founders of the firm we now know as Hill & Knowlton, John Hill, explained that public relations should be “truth, well-told.” That has not always been the case but Hill’s description remains valid. Jane Jordan-Meier obviously agrees. The subtitle of her book, “How to Manage the Media in the Digital Sage,” correctly suggests that when a crisis occurs, effective reputation management is imperative. Hence the importance of having a cohesive and comprehensive plan in place when a crisis occurs.  Regrettably, many organizations do not have such a plan. That is why Jordan-Meier wrote this book: To provide a single source just about everything a C-level executive needs to know about crisis media management.

The material is carefully organized within Five Sections, followed by (count ‘em) ten appendices that provide invaluable support material on subjects ranging from a “Guideline for Briefing Spokespeople” to advice about “Social Media Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks.” Jordan-Meier provides a “Summary” section at the conclusion of each chapter. This material will facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of key points. I also appreciate Jordan-Meier’s focus on how to help her reader achieve these learning objectives:

What is a crisis, what triggers it, and what is its probable impact?
What is the proper role of the media?
What are the stages of a crisis situation and what must each accomplish? How?
Who should – and should nit – be spokespersons? Why?
By what criteria should the CEO’s role be determined?
How best to formulate and then manage policy guidelines?
How best to prepare for a media interview?
What are the most important do’s and don’ts when being interviewed?
What are unique challenges – and opportunities – associated with different types of interviews?

In Section V: Communication – Rules and Tools, Jordan-Meier consolidates the most important information, insights, and advice; also, she includes some boilerplate material and specific recommendations concerning relations with social media.

In my opinion, the material that will be of greatest value to two groups: C-level executives who authorize and must approve a crisis media plan (or revisions thereof) and those who are charged with formulating such a plan and then updating it as needed. There is another book that I strongly recommend be read in combination with this one, if possible: Peter Meyers and Shann Nix’s As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick.

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