4 Ways for CEOs to Minimize Damage in a Crisis


Image: Getty Images

Image: Getty Images

General Motors CEO Mary Barra’s appearance before a Congressional committee Tuesday is just the latest development in the growing scandal regarding the automaker’s faulty safety protocols. At least 13 deaths have been attributed to ignition switch malfunctions in some vehicles, and it now seems that GM hid the issue for years despite growing evidence of a potentially deadly problem.

Since taking the helm in January, Barra has been in perpetual crisis mode. She faces consumer backlash, angry stockholders and now the full weight of the federal government. What can she do to make things right?

Here are some key steps that every manager must take in order to mitigate the damage a crisis can inflict on a brand, courtesy of Mark Grimm, head of Mark Grimm Communications.

  • Show genuine empathy for those harmed. Barra has hired attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who helped get payments to victims of 9/11 and the 2010 BP oil spill, to examine restitution options for GM accident victims.
  • Act with reason, not emotion. Passions can be easily ignited, particularly in a room full of lawmakers and TV cameras, but Barra kept her cool even when grilled repeatedly by committee members.
  • Find out all the facts. Barra is at a disadvantage because she has yet to provide concrete answers as to why it took GM nearly a decade to address the problem. However, one of her first actions as CEO was to institute a full internal review of the company, which is ongoing.
  • Get ahead of the story. In an internal video to GM employees in mid-March, Barra explained what the company is doing to fix its problems. This video allowed Barra the chance to advance the company’s message while also putting a public face to GM.

Things for GM are likely to get worse before they get better. But Barra’s actions provide a few lessons on what a manager can do to lessen the damage a crisis can do to a brand.

Learn more about handling crisis situations by attending PR News’ April 11 webinar, Your Crisis Management Plan: From Development to Execution.

Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell




Tags: , , , | Comments Off

avatar

About Richard Brownell

Richard Brownell is Content Manager, PR Events at PR News. He has several years' experience in developing and producing online events. Richard is a published author with several titles for young audiences to his credit. He has also written political commentary for several popular websites and his stage plays have been produced in New York and other major cities.



Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Social Media 20/20 Summit

PRN_summit_ads_175x135_ep

This gathering will feature some key influencers and operators in social media, sharing their knowledge and experience in a full day of eye-opening sessions. You will take away practical knowledge to increase the visibility of your brand and expand its reach on social media.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook

book-mediarelations-180x150

This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription

Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.