The Reality of Crisis Communications

The Reality of Crisis Communications

By Andy Likes, TVG Senior Vice President

In light of the recent events in the media, we wanted to share this piece written last year by our crisis communications and reputation management pro, Andy Likes.

Not “If,” but “When”

Throughout my 20+ years in broadcast journalism and public relations, I’ve seen my share of crisis issues. They happen every single day. I tell my crisis communications training classes that it’s not a matter of “if” a crisis happens, but “when.” Whether you are part of a small non-profit organization or a major multi-national corporation, you are vulnerable. It could be an employee issue, a cyber-attack, lawsuit, natural disaster or any other number of things, but it’s only a matter of time before your reputation is on the line for one reason or another. The biggest issue in a crisis is time!

We have clients come to The Vandiver Group in one of three phases of a crisis; pre-event, mid-event, and post-event. The clients who come to us before a crisis happens are being proactive. They want us to help write a plan, create messages, and draft template press releases before things go bump in the night. They may or may not see a crisis on the horizon, but they know anything can happen. Other clients call us mid-crisis, or after the crisis is over, for reputation management and overall communications to mitigate the damage.

Proactive Crisis Planning

Implementing a crisis plan before a crisis occurs can save you three things: time, money, and frustration.  Planning ahead saves you time. It’s easier to write a plan and use it as your guidebook when bad things happen, rather than “wing it” and address things as they occur. Planning takes preparation and time, but it’s a fraction of the time you could spend on a crisis when you’re in the middle of it. Having a succinct, understandable plan that is easy to find can also be the key to rebuilding your reputation after the crisis is over.

Having the right messages that are timely and well-delivered helps build trust with employees, the media and the public, no matter what the issue may be. Holding information back because you don’t know everything may seem easy, but it’s not the best way to handle a crisis. Give all the information you have at the time and say you’ll be back with more when you have it. It’s like ripping off a bandage – it might hurt initially, but the quicker you respond, the quicker the crisis will be over. Ultimately you want to get from the crisis to the post-event stage, so you can rebuild your reputation as quickly as possible.  That all begins with the crisis plan and having your team ready for anything.


TVG has helped companies in all three stages of a crisis for more than 20 years. Are you ready to tackle a potential crisis? How can TVG help you? Tweet us @VandiverGroup or email info@vandivergroup.com for more information.

Why is Corporate Reputation So Important?

Corporate Reputation

By Donna Vandiver, President & CEO

At TVG we do a lot of crisis communications work, so we are constantly assessing the damage a crisis can do to a client’s reputation and image. Read more

The Polls Were Wrong! Why We Should Stop Speculating

TVG Staff

No matter which side of the aisle you support or who you voted for on Tuesday, chances are that you along with the rest of the country woke up yesterday surprised, stunned or happy with the Presidential election results. Read more

The Reality of Crisis Communications

The Reality of Crisis Communications

By Andy Likes, TVG Vice President

Throughout my 20+ years in broadcast journalism and public relations, unfortunately I’ve seen my share of crisis issues. They happen every single day. I tell my crisis communications training classes that it’s not a matter of “if” a crisis happens, but “when.” Read more

PROI Worldwide Global Summit: Recap

PROI Worldwide Global Summit: A Recap

By Andy Likes, TVG Vice President

What happens when you gather more than 80 of the top PR agencies from around the world and put their top executives in a room together for four days? Read more

Finding Solutions to Violent Crime in St. Louis

Help Reduce Violent Crime in St. Louis

By Donna Vandiver, President & CEO

TVG employees had a day of community service this year on Martin Luther King Day. Over the past several years, TVG has worked closely with the St. Louis Initiative to Reduce Violence (SIRV) to donate our time and services. Read more

Surging Waters: My Community Submerged

Surging Waters: My Community Submerged

By Patty Olsen, TVG Senior Project Manager

On December 29, 2015, floodwaters started moving into my Eureka community at a rate higher than any previous floods in recent history. As a resident, I was fortunate that my only flood story was spending three days at home on an “Island” with no way in or out of our subdivision as the floodwater crept around from all sides. Read more

The Impact of the Flood

By Jesse Selz, TVG Graphic Designer

If you haven’t already heard about the current devastation caused by the historic Meramec River flooding in St. Louis that occurred in the days leading up to the New Year, there are endless numbers of articles and online sources that discuss the details. However, this blog will be focused on a micro perspective of this natural disaster, and the personal impact the floodwaters has had on my family and me. Read more

The Overlooked Side of Charitable Giving

The Overlooked Side of Charitable Giving

By Laura Vandiver, TVG VP of Research & Strategic Insight

Having worked with nonprofit organizations for a large portion of my career—both inside and as a board member—I know that it takes a wide variety of resources to keep programs and services going. And in most cases, there is never enough funding to get everything done. That’s why here at The Vandiver Group, it was so important for us to give back to our community through a day of service. We each chose an organization to donate time to on Martin Luther King Day this year. Read more

The Hidden Costs

The Hidden Costs

By Andy Likes, TVG Vice President

You can’t pick up a paper, read a blog, get on social media or watch TV without hearing a story about Stan Kroenke moving the Rams to LA. Opinions have been swift and pointed. It seems no one wanted to see the Rams leave and it’s unclear just how many in LA are excited to see them play next season in the Coliseum. The immediate impact of the Rams leaving is obvious: for the first time in more than two decades, there will be no Sunday football in St. Louis. Read more

Want a New Perspective? Take a Trip!

Want a New Perspective? Take a Trip!

By Laura Vandiver, TVG Vice President of Research and Strategic Insight

I love learning about other cultures – it’s the cultural anthropologist in me. So when I was given the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica in November to meet with some of our national and international public relations partners, I was thrilled! I think sometimes we get stuck in a certain way of thinking about and doing business, and there’s nothing like having some cultural immersion to shake up your perspective a bit. Read more

How a Lack of Communication Became a Major Fumble for the Rams

How a Lack of Communication Became a Major Fumble for the Rams

By Andy Likes, TVG Vice President

Like it or not, Stan Kroenke, his Rams franchise and the NFL are squarely in the middle of a crisis – and it’s all due to a lack of communication. When Kroenke purchased the majority ownership of the Rams in 2010, he told the NFL, Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’m going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis, Just as I did everything that I could to bring the team to St. Louis in 1995. I believe my actions speak for themselves.” Read more