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Communicate in a Crisis

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Communicate in a Crisis

Understand, Engage and Influence Consumer Behaviour to Maximize Brand Trust

Kogan Page,

15 min read
6 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

How can a company prepare its brands for today’s crisis communications?

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


Kate Hartley, a 25-year veteran of crisis response public relations, offers an incisive, readable guide to planning crisis communications. Although crisis communications for brands has been around for decades, Hartley reorients the practice to work within current media trends, including avoiding fake news, using influencer marketing and be cautious of customer information overload. Along with her useful and accessible advice, Hartley offers cringe-worthy studies of what not to do, as well as examples of best practices in action.


Social media creates new risks for brands, such as fake news and increased customer outrage.

A brand can trigger a crisis and provoke negative reactions online by making a mistake people pounce on or by acting or communicating against its stated ethics or principles.

England’s 2018 Southern Rail imbroglio provides an example. British rail companies changed their timetables abruptly and without adequately communicating with their customers. The railroad canceled thousands of trips, stranding commuters who were thus unable to get to work. Social media amplified the national outcry. Consumers filled Twitter with photos of overcrowded trains and jam-packed platforms.

Rapidly proliferating fake news, which is no longer only a political ploy, also targets companies. After a blog falsely reported remarks supposedly made by the CEO of PepsiCo during the 2016 election, the company faced a boycott, and its stock price fell 5%.

The new structures of social media amplify the emotional reactions consumers have to “passion brands.” These brands conjure profound consumer loyalty and generate meaningful interactions with customers...

About the Author

Crisis communications and PR consultant and trainer Kate Hartley co-founded Polpeo, a crisis simulation company that works with major brands. 

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