The difference between an issue and a crisis

When turbulence strikes your organisation, it can be difficult to understand the difference between an issue and a crisis. Any matter that is out of the ordinary to every day operations can feel like a crisis, when often it is an issue that can, with the correct management, avoid escalation into a full-blown crisis.

From a communications viewpoint, it’s essential to correctly identify the situation, as crises and issues are dealt with in different ways.

You know you’re facing an issue when:

  • You have adequate time to assess the situation
  • You can articulate the issue and offer or implement immediate solutions to reduce the impact
  • All or the majority of commercial operations continue as normal
  • No one has experienced injury, illness or death
  • A Middle Manager or similar can sign off on the response

A crisis on the other hand:

  • Can cease or hinder a brand’s operations
  • Can include injury, illness or death
  • Requires immediate response
  • Requires presence from the organisation’s leader
  • Will involve multiple stakeholders including media, customers, staff and suppliers

Effective communications strategies can help prevent some issues from becoming crises, but not all crises have forewarning as such.

At Elevate, we specialise in preparing comprehensive issues and crises plans that provide your organisation the tools to manage scenarios as they develop.

An issues plan might explore threats to your IT systems, HR breaches and social media backlash and provide systemised approaches and key messages to managing each issue. The importance here is to acknowledge the issue and quickly work to resolve it.

A crisis plan will identify possible crisis scenarios, develop a matrix of authorised personnel to manage such situations, provide a step by step guide to communicating internally, and outline key messaging for each scenario. The importance here is to publicly acknowledge the situation, show genuine empathy for those involved and thoroughly assess the damage before attempting to find the most appropriate solution.

It’s important to ‘pick the pain’ your key stakeholders are experiencing and address those concerns. It’s no good talking about how the crisis is affecting your business, or talking legal technicalities when emotions are running high.

If you’re preempting a crisis, make sure to understand the four phases of a crisis.  

Develop your crisis response rightthe first time, with an experienced and award-winning communications team at Elevate. 

We hope that you’ll never have to use it, but consider it another form of insurance for your business.  We also offer a comprehensive 24/7 crisis helpline for clients, to ensure structure and support in your time of need, get in touch with us today. 

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