A Close call: what this viral video can teach us about crisis management

On August 10th 2017, Holly H wrote:

A Close call: what this viral video can teach us about crisis management

Imagine a world where you could do something embarrassing without the risk of it being documented and shared with 3.7 billion people across the globe?

Unfortunately, in the YouTube age we live in, no false step goes unnoticed. As a society, we consume thousands of silly videos every day; sharing the best ones with family, friends and even strangers on social media.

The Bright team is no exception. This clip of Glenn Close singing the US national anthem is currently doing the rounds, despite it being filmed in 2011. In the video, Close valiantly attempts a rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner only to be defeated a high note in the final verse (1:30 onwards in case you’re interested).

Although her singing leaves a lot to be desired, Close makes a swift and endearing recovery which got us thinking: could she teach us a thing or two about managing a reputational crisis?

1.       Be quick

As soon as she realises her mistake, Close attempts the line again without faltering. This kind of haste is crucial when issuing crisis communications, especially in this day and age, where we are no longer constricted by the boundaries of newspaper print runs and twice daily news bulletins. It’s best to publish a short holding statement on your social media channels within the first half an hour of a story breaking. This will then buy you some time before the formal statement is issued or press conference is held later that day (if the issue warrants this level of response).

2.       Be persistent

Not deterred by her voice cracking, Close proudly sings the final note with more conviction in her voice than before. Persistence of this kind is also very useful when managing a crisis. When an incident occurs, it is important to pull out all the stops to rectify it but it is equally important that stakeholders are aware of what actions have been taken. So, decide on your message, then get it out there using all relevant communication tools.

3.       Be sincere

Despite missing a note, you can clearly hear the passion and conviction in Close’s voice which makes her overall performance more charming than embarrassing. Apply this to your crisis comms. The public will see straight through ‘PR-speak’ so make sure your spokesperson actually believes in what they are saying. BP learned this lesson the hard way when its then-CEO came under fire for showing a lack of compassion after the Deepwater Horizon spill.

So, there we have it. Not only are viral videos a great source of entertainment, they can also be educational. Next time you are faced with a crisis just think: what would Glenn do?

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