Does your emergency response plan incorporate a crisis communications framework? If tragedy strikes, do you have defined communication channels and holding statements ready for your employees, investors, customers and stakeholders? Does your management team and spokesperson possess the necessary media training to avoid common mistakes that create conflict, controversy and negative press?
Some useful resources that can help organizations prepare themselves include:
- The Centre for Risk Communication, led by Dr. Vincent Covello, which can help inform your approach to crisis communications;
- The Centre for Excellence in Emergency Preparedness; and
These resources inform our approach to communication during a crisis. In short, we advise our clients to stick to known facts, be sympathetic to those impacted, and avoid statements that minimize the severity of the event or have the potential to polarize the company’s extended community. Important lessons can be drawn from Maple Leaf Food’s Listeria Crisis in 2008 that are still relevant today. We also use effective communication and media monitoring technologies not only to manage a crisis in real time, but to spot an emerging crisis before it has legs.
Responding to COVID
When COVID hit in 2020, Stantec was well prepared. Stantec had already established a standing Pandemic Committee a decade earlier, which was indispensable to their response. From a communications perspective, what made our approach unique when Stantec reported its first quarter in 2020 was that we framed their response around the company’s core values:
While guidance was withdrawn in the Q1 2020 news release and MD&A, we helped Stantec frame the relative impact of COVID using a framework that was blatantly stolen from the quarterly webcast deck of one of the rail carriers.
As previously mentioned, the key in any crisis is to stick to the facts and communicate regularly. We framed Stantec’s updates to the capital markets in the quarterly results news releases and webcasts throughout the pandemic.
- Stantec’s First Quarter News Release and Webcast Deck
- Stantec’s Second Quarter News Release and Webcast Deck
We have managed client communications for multiple incidents including the:
- 2020 COVID pandemic
- 2019 predatory take-under of iconic Canadian oil and gas producer
- 2015 oil price crash and impact on energy services companies
- 2013 shooting and fatality at company facility
- 2013 stabbing incidents at multiple company facilities
- 2012 mass product contamination
- 2011 petro chemical spill on Vancouver Island