Kornel Bohm

How Crisis Communication is Like Blood

By: Kornel Bohm | March 15, 2016 | 
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Five Facts to Prove Why Crisis Communication is Like Blood

By Kornel Bohm

Let’s start with one of the golden truths about the workings of the media: If it bleeds, it leads.

During crises blood can flow, both literally and figuratively.

Severe incidents resulting in serious injury or death can dominate the news for lengthy periods of time.

Bloodstained crises shattering the reputation of businesses and institutions, or involving famous and public figures can be indulged in for weeks and even months as they provide a juicy topic for the general public, who never misses a chance to rub it in.

In the following passage I’d like to argue the point that this mysterious, essential fluid is connected and akin to crisis communication.

How Crisis Communication is Like Blood

Defense lines. Following skin, blood comes in second place as the body’s main line of defense.

If an injury or external impact penetrates the skin, it is up to the white blood cells to divert any harmful consequences and protect the organism from disease.

We can consider skin as the reputation and fame of a brand or organization—the primary point of encounter with the outer world.

If the company’s good name suffers damage, crisis communication—as a secondary defense— comes to the rescue in order to minimize the possible negative outcome, reduce any potential harm and save the organization.

Circulation. Blood, the maintainer of life, flows in the network of the vascular system, transporting oxygen, carrying away carbon dioxide, and moving around the other key elements of metabolism.

During a crisis, it is of vital importance that within a company, all information should be transported to the appropriate place and that decision makers and those carrying out decisions should be in permanent contact with each other.

If circulation breaks down we (may) lose the patient, whether it’s a living being or a business organization.

Information. Medical science is obtaining more and more from blood every year.

Blood tests can provide answers to symptoms indicating numerous possible illnesses, risks, and someone’s general condition.

In the life of corporate organizations, this role can be played by both risk management and a professional crisis communication plan.

While continually monitoring a company, potential risks of reputation and business can be identified and preparations made for a plan of action to avoid them.

Clotting. In the case of an injury blood not only provides protection against pathogens but, by sealing the wound and forming a scab, it also prevents further contamination and ensures safe conditions for complete recovery.

This is the task performed by crisis communication in the life of brands.

Following an injury to reputation, communication aimed at the minimizing of harm (for example, apologies, the acknowledging of mistakes, compensation, and open, transparent communication) prevents further damage done to the company’s good fame and offers a chance for quiet regeneration.

Scars. In almost every case with injuries involving more than the odd scratch the scar remains, and bears the tale of the former mishap.

Serious crises unfortunately leave behind their marks and it can take years for the harm done to the good name of the company to fade.

The job of crisis communication in this case can be likened to that of a plastic surgeon.

Have you ever considered the way in which the human system and that of a company resemble each other?

Do you have any bloody stories?

It’s your turn now.

What are other similarities between blood and communication?

image credit: shutterstock

About Kornel Bohm


Kornél Bőhm is a crisis communication expert based out of Hungary and founder of Spindoc Communications Network

  • Great metaphor. Blood can also be the carrier of pathogens, and bad communication can spread and worsen the ‘infection ‘ of the crisis. Think of Tony Hayward of BP asking for his life back as a blood-borne infection…

  • REALLY interesting take! A great visual re: the fact that communication has to be systemic — a problem can’t be fixed with a bandaid, just like crisis can’t be averted with a tweet or even a press release. The root has to be found and ALL the system has to be treated before health can be restored.

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