Learning from Volkswagen: 4 crisis leadership lessons

Are you ready for a crisis? The ‘four C’s’ can help your company recover after bad news breaks.

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Among the most recent is Volkswagen, still facing what its incoming chairman has called an “existence-threatening” crisis.

The company fired its PR chief two weeks ago and continues to clear the decks as it moves from damage control into the recovery phase.

“Additional surprises caused by previous bad decisions will continue to occur for quite some time,” says Jim Lukaszewski, president of The Lukaszewski Group Division of Risdall Public Relations. “Responding and recovery will need to work together.

“Crises of such magnitude are rare,” he says, “but every company will experience bad news at some level—from layoffs to product failures and recalls.”

What can PR pros do to rebuild trust and ensure a smooth, sustained recovery long after bad news breaks—or even as bad news keeps breaking? Consider the “four C’s”:

1. Candor. Get the truth out as soon as possible, even if you have limited information.


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