Saturday, September 25, 2010


Hello Headz! Sorry for the late post!

This week blog will be covering chapter 11 on

“Risk, Uncertainty, and Crisis: How to Identify and Manage Them”

Well, as we all understand, risk is something every of us expose to ourselves in everyday of our life. For example, when you drive a motor vehicle, you’ll be risking the events that your car would crash, hit the trees, or worse, falls off the bridge. But please don’t stop driving. So far, nothing has happened. Why? Because you know that if you fasten your seatbelt, drive with care, follow the rule, you will reduce the risks of all those mentioned.

Now, the same thing happens in PR. When we begin a media relations campaign, we expose our client to potential injury and potential loss. Our duty is therefore to minimize those risks to a manageable level, or if possible, to avoid them.

According to the reading, there are four stages of risk and uncertainty in beginning the media relations campaign.

First risk would be when we deliver a campaign proposal to a client who we considered as the most important stakeholder in media relations. A client, who is more attuned to the risk associated with their business, would not want to engage the proposal that has a high level risk to his career. Such as, if he knows that the material we send may have a great possibility for the journalist to dig further and write a negative story, he might end up rejecting the proposal. In this case, we should be able to apply the persuasion theory and ensure him that the risk is manageable.

Second risk, which is related to Nur’s previous post, would be the item we deliver to the media. In this case, we take the risk that our item would be rejected together with 70 percent others. Journalists receive more than 50000 pieces of information that could be labeled ‘news releases’ a day. How is that not possible to see ours tossed in the bin? To reduce that risk, we should be able to come up with interesting story, catchy headline, and promising story angle to draw their attentions in the first place.

The other risk would be when there is a knowledge gap. Sometimes, what we write may not be something the reporters have knowledge about. In this case, it might lead them to a free shot, and worse, would lead them to use the material in a way we did not expect. What we should do to reduce this risk is to frame a story that the journalists have knowledge and are familiar about (this requires you to research about their profile with direct consequences for a client). The other thing is to apply the knowledge gap theory. This theory assumes us to communicate in a way that could reduce the knowledge gap between what the individual has already known and what is received.

So, by reducing risk and uncertainty, it can reduce the probability of an event to turn into a crisis.

However, this does not mean there will be no crisis. A nature of political, cultural, economic events, relationships to individual behaviors and attitudes will always cause a crisis in an organization to rise.

And therefore, lead us, as a PR practitioner to find way to identify, manage, and overcome this disaster.

In media relations, crisis is most often linked to reputation. One critical thing we should note in managing the crisis of an organization is to protect and maintain its image and reputation.

So, according to the book, there is a five-stage lifecycle in dealing a crisis,

detection- preparation- containment- recovery- and evaluation.

I will briefly explain how it works by giving the example of action films.

Imagine the genre set was the American west with cowboys and herds. There are robberies firing pistols to the air causing the steers frightened to run. Brave cowboys would get hold of it and turn the dangerous path to a calm walk before rounding the herds up.

Detection – hearing the gunshots

Preparation – staying in the saddle

Containment – Turning point

Recovery – when the herd slowed to walk

Evaluation – when the dust is settled (where the boss counts number of dead cowboys and examines the damages)

So, basically those are what i covered for this week posts.

I hope you find it informative enough!

remember to comment!


  1. I second the idea of the four stages of risk and uncertainty in beginning the media relations campaign. As media relations is the fundamental tool of public relations, therefore it is vital for the PR practitioner to proactively present a strong corporate message to the media increases mind share with the general public.

    Excellent PR practitioner usually knows well how to establish an effective media relations. Effective media relations is usually attained using a variety of communications vehicles and tactics, including those mentioned in Cindy's post such as press releases, bylined articles, newsletters, case studies and media tours.

    In order to achieve the best results, PR practitioner together with the company or client should first identify their audience and understand how the media can be used as a channel or platform to reach it.

    Once the audience has been defined, the company should decide on 3 strong messages that will be delivered to the media via speeches, presentations, media kits and announcement which of course have to have a strong relation with the audience.

    Then, once the messages have been figured, a company should start creating a comprehensive kit. And after the kit has been created, only then the company can start attracting the media's attention by generating relevant news.

    So, basically that is what I think both PR practitioner and company should do in order to reduce the risks.

  2. Hi, to reduce knowledge gap, I think the simplest way PR people can do is by using simple language that are easy to be understood. Framing is important to ensure that whoever reading the material can capture the key messages.

    When dealing with crisis, another way to describe PR practitioners is they need to be in 'standby' mode, so that whatever accusation the press/public give, he/she may come up with something that could tackle them (preparation and containment). We can also look at the news to understand why the crisis arises.

  3. It is indeed true that there are definitely risks in everything that we do. Even something as simple as driving a car, as mentioned by Cindy. What more in public relations. The only difference is that in PR, these risks not only involve the practitioners themselves and their clients but their career as a whole, their clients' reputation and even the general public. As PR is often associated with the public, it is a practitioner's duty to ensure that there is minimal or no risk involved in any recommendations or proposals given to their clients and the people around.

    Unfortunately, crisis is something that nobody can prevent no matter how much effort and organization puts in. The only way to 'prevent' or overcome this crisis is to be crisis-ready at all times. An organization should have a formal crisis management plan to ensure that they are ready to face them should it occur. This way, risks can be reduced by careful planning and training. Also, studies have shown that the most crucial point of time during a crisis is the first 24hour. This is the shortest yet most stressful period of time for a PR practitioner as they have to be capable in managing the crisis to reduce as much reputation damage as possible. Therefore, an organization needs to be crisis-ready.

  4. Hi Cindy, you have provided me one informative post in this week about Risk and Crisis in Public Relation. Yes, we couldn’t know where it will happen, so the only way we should prevent it by trying all the best in the proposal to a client, which is the first stage that Cindy mentioned. I think it is the important part to avoid risk in our work process. A campaign proposal is the paper that includes strategies and tactics, target press, key message, your own evaluation as how to measure the campaign. Moreover, PR practitioner should research on the client industry to ensure that what is the goal you want to achieve with the best result. The most critical part that client want to know is risk and crisis, it means this is the part that PR practitioner should prepare carefully, in order to minimize the worse result, which would be happened.

    I really like the way you help reader imagine the five-stage lifecycle in dealing a crisis by linking with the American action movie. Helping the organization avoid crisis is not easy thing to do, protect reputation of organization is not simple. Therefore, PR practitioner must have the precise mind to think and solve those barriers for their clients.

  5. HI just FYI I'm doing week 7 reading which is chapter 12 okay :D