By Meg Purser, Managing Director


Managing your reputation in a crisis

During a crisis you need a plan. This plan is about effective communication as a tool to manage reputation and it can make or break your outcome.

If you don’t have a plan, don’t panic. Now is the time. The team at Purser Corporate Communication has developed a seven-step resource that can help you develop the right communication tools now and as you begin to recover and revitalise your business.

Step 1 – it’s not about you

Despite the fact that any crisis or issue is always about your future in business, the first rule in strategic communication is to understand that it’s more about the way that your target audiences will engage with the crisis. Now is not the time to hunker-down. Now is the time to communicate.

The Australian Government is investing billions of dollars to help business survive this unprecedented crisis. This investment is designed to help fund business through the crisis. You need a plan to ensure you can and will operate when that time comes.

Step 2 - know your ‘who’

Who are your target audiences. There maybe a handful or more and can be categorised into the following areas.

  • Staff / contractors / board / owners
  • Customers / clients
  • Suppliers
  • Peak bodies and authorities
  • Public sector
  • Key influencers
  • Special interest
  • Media

By noting individual, group or perhaps avatars for each target audience segment, it will help you understand who they are and how they are used to receiving information from you or indeed, how they like you to communicate with them. What do they need to hear?

Step 3 – tell the truth

We have a saying at Purser Corporate Communication – you can’t fox the truth. That means that you can’t go into places you shouldn’t, take things you oughtn’t, or say things that are not correct. Communication is about well crafted messages designed to be effectively heard and reacted to your target audiences.

Step 4 – what are your messages

Every response or communication activity (even when you are not dealing with a crisis) must be factual and simple. Messages do not need to be long or verbose and they do not need to tell every detail – just the ones that matter to your audiences in a voice that are easily understood and encourages feedback or response.

Step 5 – set up a process that clearly defines what you are doing

In planning your communication tactics it is important to establish a process that takes into account your appreciation of the impacts of the crisis on your clients, customers and wider community and what you can offer to help.

Step 6 – manage it

While the rest of the world is also dealing with this crisis, the issues in your business are yours and here are some tips on managing communication.

Review and update

  • Where is the incident
  • Who will it affect
  • When did it happen
  • Emergency services involvement
  • Media and other stakeholder involvement
  • What has changed?


People to provide specialist knowledge or skills – HR and wellbeing, PR, marketing, accounting, legal, IT

What is our response?


  • People safety and care
  • Working with advice from relevant authorities
  • Work with specialist advisers to hone messages

Who are the target audiences?

What are our key messages?

Ongoing and updated as information is approved for release.

What tools will we use?

  • Face to face
  • Video
  • Text
  • EDMs
  • Social media
  • Website
  • Staff comms
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Briefings
  • Others

Who is responsible for communication?

  • Draft messages
  • Advise regulatory authorities
  • Staff liaison
  • Families
  • Media messaging

What is the timing?

Step 7 – the devil is in the detail

Not everyone with a keyboard is a communicator or journalist. When considering what resources you need to get through this or any other challenge, don’t go it alone. Use people who are skilled and able to craft messages that can help you now and when it’s time to recover.

By Meg Purser from Purser Corporate Communications

About Purser Corporate Communication

Purser Corporate Communication (PCC) specialises in an integrated approach to corporate communication, working with our clients to develop strategies that support and advance their business objectives.

Since 1984, Purser Corporate Communication has worked with national, state and regional organisations in both the public and private sectors to support their corporate goals through timely and professional services. This holistic approach to communication strategy leverages a range of communication tools and the expertise of our dynamic line-up of consultants. This experienced and award winning team is well connected across the greater Newcastle and Hunter region and the media.

Professionally managed and personably delivered, you receive an individually tailored result that truly reflects your corporate objectives. The team is highly regarded for its ability to provide clients with sound and knowledgeable advice across areas such as:
  • Identifying opportunities that progress corporate objectives
  • Developing and integrating strategy
  • Advancing professional networks and contacts
  • Establishing positioning plans, policies and procedures

Our Services

  • Issue and crisis management
  • Corporate positioning
  • Public Affairs
  • PR
  • Community engagement
  • Media relations

For further assistance, give us a call on (02) 4962 4577

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