Active Crisis Management

As well as providing strategic advice to clients in crisis, Chelgate  also provides hands-on assistance. Often, our clients have regular business functions to deliver in spite of a developing crisis, so in-house staff cannot readily also become full-time crisis managers.

Chelgate teams can be deployed to help your firm to defend its reputation in a crisis. We work both remotely – over the phone, by email, and via video-conferencing (e.g. Skype) – or on-site, in person. Based in London, our staff supports clients from across the country, and we travel to our clients’ offices at short notice.

How we help

We provide a tailored service that delivers cost-effective, flexible assistance. Depending on the client’s in-house capabilities, we can deliver anything from an occasional, as-and-when assistance package to a full-blown crisis management operation. We offer the following range of services.

Media relations

  • Handling media enquiries
  • Press conferences or briefingsCrisis Communications
  • Off-record media briefings
  • Press release drafting and distribution
  • Pre-interview spokesperson preparation
  • Media monitoring

Intense, sudden negative media interest is a common feature of many crises. Chelgate will often act as a “firewall” between the client and the media, with all crisis-relevant media enquiries being routed through Chelgate. This allows our client to continue its normal operations, allowing senior management the opportunity for a considered response, working with Chelgate to determine the proper “line” being taken in press statements, and in response to press questions. By insulating the client from the media, we also eliminate the possibility of an unguarded statement being made unintentionally by a client staff member.

As well as responding to media questions, in person or over the phone, we may call and manage press conferences, and draft and distribute press releases to relevant, targeted media audiences. We will also often work off-record with the media to correct misconceptions or establish relevant context.

In the heat of a crisis, it is also important to know about significant media coverage, as soon as it appears or is broadcast.  Rapid response may often limit or entirely prevent a hostile or inaccurate story gaining traction.  But left unchallenged, it may establish a damaging and false narrative which can be very hard to roll back.   Chelgate can very quickly apply a range of monitoring capabilities  to enable early pick-up of relevant media coverage, whether print, broadcast or online.

Online media

  • Monitoring real-time sentiment on social media
  • Tracking coverage of a developing news story
  • Managing social media channels
  • Responding to online allegations, reportage or multimedia content

The vast majority of crises have a major online dimension. We monitor our clients’ crises online, and respond to the online aspects of crises as appropriate. On numerous occasions we have been successful in having online posts removed, corrected or blocked without resorting to legal action. As we respond to online challenges, we differentiate between “trolling” and genuine allegations or insults, and analyse trends across hundreds or thousands of social media users to assess the tone, demographics and significance of large volumes of Tweets, posts, and other interactions.

We also recognise that social media are critical to the media monitoring process.  A story, rumour or allegation  promoted through social media can be picked up within minutes by the traditional media.

Mobilising third voices

The angle taken by media coverage is rarely determined by what the two disputing parties say about a controversial situation. It is third parties, especially those with disinterested expertise, who can most powerfully affect public opinion. During a crisis, Chelgate will often work with its clients to mobilise third voices, the building blocks of a campaign to address misplaced public hostility, misinformation, or inaccurate media coverage. We have successfully managed third voice campaigns for a wide range of clients including governments, political campaigners, companies, charities and schools.

Who needs active crisis assistance?

We manage the crisis communications of clients of all sizes. Larger organisations often welcome the opportunity for management access to crisis management advice from an expert, highly  experienced Crisis Management professional. Crisis Management is a very specialist area, demanding real understanding of the difficult and challenging dynamics unique to the crisis environment. This often will not be available internally, or from existing external resources.  Operationally, in house communications teams are usually geared to normal workload levels.  The huge increase and acceleration in the organisation’s communications demands can leave the team severely and dangerously over-stretched, and as the crisis rolls on, at the limit of their physical resources.  Here, bolt-on, short-term additional emergency professional resources to assist with media relations and other communications tasks can be invaluable.

For smaller clients, including families and individuals, we often act as the client’s sole PR capability.  Whilst we generally recommend that a client should represent itself in any direct dealings with the media, there are times when it is not possible or appropriate for the client to perform the spokesperson role.  When this is the case, senior members of the Chelgate team, with a wealth of experience in media relations, will act as spokespeople for the client in question.