‘Be the bearer of your own bad news’ was one of the five rules of crisis management presented by Peter Kapcio of Eric Mower + Associates to attendees at the Environmental Breakfast Club of Central New York meeting on March 7 in Syracuse, N.Y.
Kapcio, EMA’s director of Reputation Management Services spoke to the club’s group of engineers and environmental professionals alongside EMA Public Affairs Management Supervisor John Lacey on how to handle bad news related to environmental or other public works projects.
Unanticipated negative events ranging from such things as accidents, spills or cost overruns to activist group attacks or political grandstanding can occur at any time during the span of a major project. Any one of them can precipitate a crisis that erodes public support, drives up costs and perhaps threatens its completion.
Because public concern runs high regarding environmental issues, it is critical that project leaders prepare for potential public communications obstacles. “When unaddressed by project managers, bad news will often derail an environmental project. Following our five rules allows projects to recover and get back on track,” said Lacey.
The presentation reviewed EMA’s five rules of crisis response:
1) – If bad news is going to come out anyway, you should release it first, proactively and preemptively.
2) – Always reveal and share the bad news with your own people first.
3) – Take all your hits in one round. Get all the bad news out at once.
4) – The best way to answer tough questions is to answer them before they’re asked
5) – Facts and actions are the only things that trump rumors and speculation.
The Environmental Breakfast Club of Central New York is sponsored by Hancock and Estabrook, LLP. The club features a monthly speaker series where experts address a range of topics faced by those involved with or tied to environmental issues.
As director of Reputation Management Services, Kapcio provides controversial issues counsel and crisis communications support to clients on a variety of issues including legislative and environmental. In addition, he is responsible for conducting EMA’s Media Training, Executive Presentation and Crisis Communication Training programs.
As a senior member of EMA’s Public Affairs team, Lacey counsels clients on short- and long-term strategic communications planning, crisis communications and policy matters, with a particular specialty in winning public support for alternative energy projects such as wind energy, hydropower and biofuels generation. His experience includes government relations, strategic communications and project development for both the non-profit and for-profit sectors.