When it comes to dealing with crises, it is fundamentally important to deal with issues head-on. Obfuscation is the last thing any CEO should consider. Although it is vitally important for a CEO to come across as fully rounded and in control, it is key to remember that mistakes happen and therefore one should not dwell on what has happened, but instead focus on how to make the best of things.

The recent issue involving Boris Johnson is a typical example of this. He clearly made an error in making the comment, he recognised that and then confirmed that he’ll speak to Iran directly in an attempt to find a resolution. Ryanair is another recent example. Whilst consumers have been understandably frustrated by having flights cancelled, the response should be careful and considered.

  1. Outline the full facts
  2. If in the wrong, apologise
  3. Confirm what will be done to compensate

Continuing to use Ryanair as an example, such crises are always going to be damaging because stories will appear such as “couple miss own wedding due to flight cancellation”. However, the company can be quite bullish in its rebuttal on the assumption that the compensation is what can be reasonably expected.

In Uber’s case, much of its difficulties have emerged from criticism received from Black Cab drivers who have accused the company of damaging their trade and devaluing The Knowledge, which takes a number of years to pass and is an experience qualification to obtain. Uber has every right to point out that its drivers go through the legal background checks to ensure consumers safety is not damaged, whilst pointing out that its well within its rights to provide competition in the market space.

This leads onto the importance of CEO’s being prepared for accusations which are false or unfair. When this takes place, there are a few key action points to remember:

  1. Stay calm – no impulsive reactions
  2. Deal with accusation head on
  3. Move on

Whatever the circumstance, whether a crises involves true or false information, the key point to always bear in mind is to confess to any errors, be totally honest and ensure that all bad news is released on day one. A common way to exacerbate a crisis is to only deal with certain elements of the issue at hand. Once everything is out in the open, a company can begin to move on from a crisis.

Laura Moss is co-managing director at The PR Office.

About the Author: Laura Moss