Nike and Columbia Gas Show Two Sides of Silence During a Crisis

Katie Paine, CEOPaine Publishing

Last month in these pages there was a discussion of how quickly brands and organizations should react to PR crises. An immediate reaction is rarely advisable, although in situations where public safety is involved, speed is critical. We’ll look at such a case below.

In most situations, though, communicators are urged to spend time monitoring the social and traditional media conversations before responding. How much time they should take to do this is where art mixes with science.

A survey earlier in the year from Bospar PR and Propeller Insights asked 1,000+ American adults how long is too long for companies to respond during a crisis. 35 percent said companies should respond within 24 hours; 29 percent said a response within 48 hours was proper; 16 percent said 72 hours; 10 percent said companies should respond within one week.

On Sept. 28, Facebook released news of its data network breach, revealing that the information of 50+ million users was “directly affected.” In contrast to other data breaches (remember Equifax?), this one was announced promptly; Facebook discovered the breach just three days prior to its announcement. It deserves credit for that.

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