Top 5 things you need to do if an issue breaks

Increasingly, CEOs and Chairs are the face of a business. They will thrive or die by their business’s reputation. Think about how many heads rolled at the Banking Royal Commission. Despite being removed from the operational parts of the business that were responsible for the atrocities that some of their customers suffered, fundamentally the buck stops with them.

So, what are the five things a CEO should think about when they can see trouble brewing ahead.

1. Call your communications team.

Keep your communications team in the loop as quickly as you can so that they can begin to strategise messaging both internally and externally. If it’s highly confidential or controversial, call an external PR professional in to assist early. Don’t wait until you get the first media call, or the issue has got traction on social media. It’s too late to really take control and all you’ll be doing is defending your position.

2. Track your coverage.

Ensure you have social and media tracking in place so that you can respond quickly or at least acknowledge it within the strategy you choose to take.

3. Plan your key messages early.

Know your position (which may be in consultation with your lawyer) and draft appropriate messages that can be adapted for different audiences. These may have to be updated as the scenario changes, but having this document as a key cornerstone of your communications is critical.

4. Assign responsibilities clearly.

Make sure the people in your inner circle know their role and have authority to carry out this role without too much interference. These people should be aligned to your key audiences: staff, media, customers, investors, the community.

5. Be honest.

Don’t hide the truth from your advisors. Knowing the full situation is the only way they can do their job well and ensure the best results for your organisation. The mea culpa is often the best route forward for a quick resolution.

Clarity has been working with the media in Perth, Western Australia for 20 years. Many of those clients come to the business with a specific issue or crisis and are being pressured to front the media and explain their side of the story.

Speak to us about your reputation and profile building needs today.


Anthony Hasluck

Anthony Hasluck - Managing Director of Clarity Communications

Anthony is the majority owner of Western Australia’s largest independent public relations agency, Clarity Communications. In addition to his managerial and consulting activities connected with Clarity, Anthony is a Director the Racing and Gaming Authority.