The Crisis Management Challenge

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

This neat but painful idea amply explains what happens in a crisis: the plans you’d made somehow seem a distant thing as people rush for cover and panic ensues.

Of course, what happens is that things move far more quickly than you anticipate – or if feels that way. Often, the thing itself eats up all the operational capacity you have. And the narrative quickly is driven from elsewhere – unless you take control.

Posted on 22nd September 2017

Can comms people really change behaviour?

What a better way to start a Friday than with talking about etching images of flies into urinals and finishing with ideas that would get me sacked. Well that’s exactly how my day was when I attended the fantastic behaviour change course organised by the Local Government Association, LGcommunications and delivered by Ogilvy Change (I’m not just being biased as an LGcomms exec member, I promise!)

Even on entering the Ogilvy building, I knew I was in for a good day, my mood was lifted by seeing all the dogs that were being brought to work, especially the long haired dachshund who decided that he would much rather stay with the security guard, than go into the actual office. Imagine being able to take your dog to work every day. Amazing! (I’m a dog person – apologies – I’ll continue).

The day was run by behaviour change experts or scientists – Maddie and Dan. They were as you’d expect, fantastically knowledgeable, and finding out that Maddie previously conducted science experiments on people’s brains using probes and electrodes, I wasn’t going to be questioning anything she said.

The day was split into Behaviour change science and practical tools to help us make the most of the theory in our work. The first part demonstrated how our brain works in two systems and questioned our own view of things. This is something I already have some experience of, as it’s part of a syllabus that I teach in my other role in the Royal Navy. However, it’s always great to see everyone else’s reaction to finding out more about this and starting to question themselves and being shocked and surprised to find out what things are not always what they seem.


Posted on 15th September 2017

A crisis of faith

When there’s a crisis in an organisation, its leaders are usually advised to communicate early and often, apologise when necessary and to be responsive to the demands for the media, recognising that they can define the thing.

But we don’t often talk about why these are the right things to do.

Here’s a suggestion: taking these actions help to restore the faith that people have in a crisis-affected organisation and its leaders.

Faith is a belief in something without having to see proof. The belief that people have in the public and private organisations that shape our lives is rarely based upon a rational analysis of the risks that they, as consumers, face.

People have neither the time, the inclination nor the expertise to assess every day risks. Practically speaking, most of us wander through life wholly dependent upon faith.

Posted on 13th September 2017

What impact will the demise of the local press have on local gov?

For years many councils have berated their local press – often with justification.

Barely ten years ago, a Head of Communications would block out time in the diary for the weekly ritual of berating editors and news editors with accusations of unfair coverage, biased reporting and inaccuracies.

Communications meetings with Leaders were often dominated by discussing (usually with expletives) the negative impact of headlines, letters and opinion pieces.

Rarely if, ever, was any time spent recognising the important role local papers played in connecting their communities with what is happening around them.

Now that local papers are closing at an alarming rate, with the Oldham Evening Chronicle the latest to go into administration, can we really begin to understand impact that their demise will have on local government?

Posted on 1st September 2017