Perspectives on a city’s crisis preparedness

How does an international city keep its head over water if a PR crisis strikes that affects its reputation? A thought that crossed our mind as Dubai was in the international spotlight over whether a certain lady on her business trip to Dubai was unfairly sentenced over her claim of what went wrong during an evening of drunken booze.

While international media was quick to blame the country over what it deemed as outdated laws and infringement of human rights, the local media took a few days to give a step by step account of why she really was sentenced. It turned out that she had retracted her initial claim and also her behaviour leading up to the crime defied logic which clearly impacted her sentencing.

Why wasn’t Dubai’s side of the story explained in a more swift manner? Couldn’t that have mitigated the backlash and wrongful one sided reporting by international media and the entire internet screaming ‘bigoted’ and ‘unsafe’ and so on?

It is challenging when scandals affect public trust in your city. Reputation management of a city is not easy, and it involves anticipating the worst, planning for it and executing a plan during the darkest hours.

So what exactly is the best crisis PR plan for a city?

First of all consider these important questions:

• What happened?
• How did it happen?
• What is its current effect?
• What is our position on this event?
• Are there political, economic or international aspects to this problem?
• What internal and external resources should we gather to address this crisis?
• How will the situation evolve and what can be done to keep it from getting worse?
• Who is the primary spokesperson?

The next phase should involve putting a plan together:

• What messages do we want to deliver?
• How do we get the messages out?
• Is current media coverage or public commentary accurate?
• How do we change inaccurate perceptions of the city’s role in the crisis?
• How will we demonstrate that this won’t happen again?

What do you think of this article? Do you have a crisis plan in place for your organization?

About Iris PR Dubai

Iris Public Relations is a PR agency in Dubai, UAE, providing public relations consultancy in the Middle East
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