Crises are on the Rise in China – 10 Golden PR Rules for Survival

Published on 2013-01-15

On the 9th of January, the Chamber was delighted to invite Lord Chadlington, Chief Executive of Huntsworth Plc., to talk us through the new trends emerging in the world of public relations and ten golden rules for survival when dealing with a crisis.

The rise of social media in China has been extremely rapid over the last few years, and a company’s ability to maintain and enhance its reputation through this medium is extremely important. A crisis will reveal the true nature of a business, and show the world its true colours. The importance of handling a crisis swiftly and effectively is hence now more important than ever before.

On the 9th of January the British Chamber of Commerce Shanghai was delighted to invite Lord Chadlington, Chief Executive of Huntsworth Plc., to talk us through the new trends emerging in the world of public relations and ten golden rules for survival when dealing with a crisis.

By looking at trends in Western Europe and North America, Lord Chadlington explained how the PR industry in China would follow the same evolution over the next five to ten years. The industry has become more and more focused on social media, with all communications and information coming under scrutiny. With such easy access to information worldwide, the need for companies to hire specialists to give off a good company image is crucial.

When dealing with a crisis, Lord Chadlington talked us through ten rules for survival:

1) Kitchen Table Test – if you make a statement about a crisis, how will this be accepted around a normal family’s kitchen table? Will they say you handled it well or will they question why you failed to do certain things?

2) CAP: Concern – Have I demonstrated concern for those harmed? Action – What actions have been taken so it never occurs again? Perspective – Have I put this into perspective?

3) If a crisis involves a disaster, you must address issues in the correct order. People are more important than property, and property is more important than money.

4) Who is the spokesperson? The spokesperson should be a different person from the individual who is in charge of dealing with the crisis.

5) Monitor the social media to see whether you are successful or not.

6) Who is the spokesperson? Try and choose someone who will be culturally more in touch with the public. Women are generally better than men at expressing grief and concern. If a British company has a crisis in America, it is much better to have an American talking about “our” crisis than a Brit talking about “your” crisis.

7) Is this a perception or a performance issue? Until you can say you are resolving the issue, PR means nothing and can often just make the situation worse.

8) Never say “no comment”, “take this off the record”, ortry to be economical with the truth. With journalists constantly digging for content, the truth will inevitably come out. The best policy is to be completely truthful from the start.

9) Prepare – You should have a crisis communication program in place, and practice simulating crises.

10) No crisis is any longer containable in a single geography. With highly developed communications no content is manageable in the current world.

In summary, Lord Chadlington expressed the huge responsibility Chinese companies have on the international scene. With every eye in the world on China, the way companies behave will be hugely important for their reputation and development. In order to maintain a good public image, it is crucial to have high quality PR staff and boast complete honesty.