Insurance giant Chubb Group is no stranger to media crises, from natural and man-made disasters to rate increases and claim denials.
Regardless of the issue, the global property and casualty insurance firm focuses on its core value when responding to crisis events. It harkens back to company founder Hendon Chubb, who said, “Never compromise integrity.”
Based on this credo, Mark Schussell, vice president and PR manager for Chubb Group, shared the company’s big-picture crisis-management plan at a recent conference. Given the vast scope of the company—10,000 employees in 27 countries—the approach is simple and straightforward, based on this trinity: Don’t cover up; fix the problem; apologize.
Here’s an outline of Chubb’s protocol:
• Identify and prepare for potential issues.
• Communicate with the customer service and legal teams.
• Get the facts and prepare statements.
• This covers traditional and social media.
• Respond and correct the record.
• Get in front of the story.
• “No comment” is a last-ditch response.
• Accurately convey your side of the story.
Having slogged through 100-plus-page crisis plans, I can tell you this simple approach makes sense, particularly given the evolving social media nature of bad news. By the time you get through an extensive plan and figure out what to do, the crisis will have escalated beyond control. In a crisis, the best company responses demonstrate on social channels that they are listening and trying to resolve problems.
Taking a page from Chubb, you should listen and respond; the rest is just window dressing.
Gil Rudawsky is a former reporter and editor with 20 years of communications experience. He heads up the crisis communication/issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. Read his blog or contact him at email@example.com.