Whitney Danhauer

Spin Sucks AMA: Crisis Management with Melissa Agnes

By: Whitney Danhauer | June 12, 2019 | 
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crisis managementNo matter what industry you’re in, it’s inevitable you’ll be faced with a crisis at some point in time.

You’ve got two options.

You can panic and run around trying to get a handle on the situation as best you can.

Or, you can do as much as possible to plan for an emergency beforehand.

Obviously, none of us knows when a crisis is going to occur, but there are ways we can become better prepared to manage one.

That’s why we sat down last month with Melissa Agnes for our #SpinSucksAMA.

Melissa is a digital crisis thought-leader, speaker, and author of Crisis Ready (a book we highly recommend).

So if anyone knows how to prepare for a crisis it’s Melissa!

Taking on Crisis Management as a Career

Dealing with a crisis is stressful, so I’m always in awe of people who specialize in crisis management.

My blood pressure would go through the roof.

When we asked Melissa how she got into it, she told us she had always been aware of risk, even when she was a kid.

But she started thinking about it seriously in the early days of social media:

“I remember I was doing my morning reading and a lightbulb went off. I was reading about social and the latest trends, and it was all so relevant and interesting, but my brain immediately went to, ‘Why is nobody talking about the risk of social? The risk of two-way communication, mobile technology, and real time news cycles?’ So for the next year, I spent every moment that I could devouring anything on the topic of crisis management.”

Issue vs. Crisis

Sometimes an issue can feel like a crisis.

It’s throwing your schedule off.

Nothing goes off as planned.

But while they have many similarities, issues and crises are not interchangeable.

So we asked Melissa to outline the difference between the two:

“A crisis is a negative event or situation that stops business as usual to some extent because it requires immediate escalation, straight to leadership. It requires you to take leadership out of their busy meetings, their busy day, because it needs their eyes, their decision-making, and their directives. This negative event threatens the long-term material impact on one or all of the following five things—your stakeholders, internal and or external, the environment, your business’s operations, its reputation, and/or its bottom line. Long-term material impact stops business as usual.

An issue is also a negative event or situation, but it doesn’t stop business as usual. Management is more involved with an issue, which is more like business as usual on hyper drive. You don’t need to call leadership out of their busy day, because it doesn’t threaten that long-term material impact on any one of those five things.”

How to Not Handle a Crisis

We all make mistakes.

Lucky for us, as individuals, the entire world doesn’t typically see the mistakes we make.

Whether it happens at work or something in our personal life, most of our mistakes stay pretty private.

The same can’t be said about organizations and social media.

With a large following comes a lot of responsibility, so we asked Melissa to talk about some of the biggest mistakes organizations make as they deal with crisis management:

“The biggest mistake is not being ready. I guess that would be the biggest mistake because when you’re ready, you understand all of the things, right? You have that baseline understanding or education. Successful crisis management requires simultaneously effective action and communication. You cannot effectively or successfully manage a crisis by taking all the right actions behind the scenes and not communicating effectively or vice versa.”

More Questions?

We recorded a brief interview with Melissa and it’s available for you to view here.

This is just a short clip.

The full #SpinSucksAMA delves into Melissa’s approach to crisis management in much more detail, and offers tips and case studies.

It’s an example of the type of exclusive content we offer our PR Dream Team every month.

We also share useful templates and other resources that helps them be more effective marketers and communicators.

Have you ever thought about joining? We’d love to have you!

The PR Dream Team is a smart, friendly, and helpful community—and you know what they say: membership has its benefits.

You can find more PR Dream Team information here.

Until next time!

About Whitney Danhauer


Whitney is living in Central Kentucky with her husband, Michael and her daughter, Evie Rose. She's an avid reader, an even more avid movie watcher, and loves nothing more than a well-placed pop culture reference. By day she writes about all things communications for Spin Sucks, by night she writes about whatever she wants. Her first novel, Good Riddance, was released in October of 2015.