AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerThere Are Stages to Every Crisis

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There Are Stages to Every Crisis

If you search for crisis stages you will get millions of answers. Yet one thing that is consistent is that in every crisis there is an associated communication crisis. Sometimes layered crisis communications problems. As Dr. Seuss says, “I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind.” crisis stage

From working with organizations of all kinds, we find there are 4 typical stages to any communications crisis. Strong public relations is needed at any stage, but when we get calls are usually at the “Emergency or Anger” phase. The problem is that during “Recovery and New Reality” stages people are forming ongoing relationships for the future.

The one thing we often see from organizations in crisis is a need to go silent. The second problem is going slow. Most feel safe going slow and silent. But that is probably only good in submarine warfare. However, silence is never a good strategy in the court of public opinion. And slow only makes you irrelevant.

When our business flooded in 2008, I remember those who stood up for our business and thoroughly communicated with us throughout the crisis. It is a very short list and not made up of the business leadership you would think.

Each of the 4 stages have unique messaging associated with the problem. No one stage is the most important: However, pay special attention to the Anger stage. This stage can last the longest and bleed into other stages. It is the stage where blame is set–even if it is not deserved. Every crisis needs a scapegoat. And there will be a search until an adequate one is found — best to do messaging to make sure your organization name is not a goat.

The end of the Dr. Seuss quote goes like this, “I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bough a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”  The big bat of any crisis is solid public relations/communications strategy.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.