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Anastasia Ivanova

Published on

January 17, 2019


corporate communications, crisis communications, crisis management

On New Year’s Day most of us wake up with a hangover that gives way to all sorts of sobering ideas.

One idea is that hangovers aren’t actually all that bad; they could act as useful metaphors for challenging situations such as corporate crises, for example. And, at times, even provide hands-on, comprehensive guidance to corporate issues and crises management, by association (if and when all else fails).

Remember The Hangover, a comedy epic with Bradley Cooper, where he’s navigating his way out of an unimaginable bachelor party conundrum? Guess what – some of the worst corporate crises in history (think, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill) have been discovered in a similar way:

  • Waking up in the middle of the night to realise: ‘Houston, we have a PROBLEM’
  • Scrambling for clues as to what’s been happening all along
  • Discovering the unbelievable
  • Trying to fix something seemingly unfixable
  • Acting out to the amusement of the public
  • Learning a valuable life lesson
  • Hoping nothing of the sort would ever happen again
  • Praying there is no sequel

Joking aside, there’s more use to surviving a ‘regular’ hangover than we think, particularly when it comes to corporate issues management and crisis communications. Let’s explore those similarities and how transferable your ‘gueule de bois’ management skills can be when it comes to corporate issues prevention and mitigation, before they spiral out of control.

As it turns out, similar logic could be applied to both hangovers and corporate issue management:

1. Too much liquidity leads to later volatility.

Too much alcohol – or financial market instability – would indicate potential trouble ahead. Hedge (use Alka-Seltzer or stock market options) to mitigate the most likely negative outcomes.

2. Is it an isolated or a systemic issue?

Regularly recurring hangovers and corporate issues of the same type require a speedy intervention. Call a specialist before the situation snowballs into a crisis of confidence that you can’t manage on your own.

3. If ignored, could it create an even bigger problem?

In short, it depends on the context. A hangover in of itself is not a problem if you acknowledge it and address it by sleeping it off. It’s a completely different story, however, if you ignore the hangover and proceed with driving, piloting, starring in a Cirque du Soleil performance and the like. The same approach works for issues management and crisis communications. It’s OK to have a problem (chicken shortages at KFC restaurants, for example), however it’s what you do about an issue and how you communicate around it that ‘makes you’ or ‘breaks you’ in the court of public opinion.

4. Are you learning from past mistakes and striving for better outcomes next time?

When it comes to hangovers, preparation is key; from pre-booking your ride home, to taking the next day off and knowing your limits. In today’s issues management, preparation, regular drills, and past crisis communication experience are essential.

5. Are you able to avoid anxiety and stay calm?

Apparently, hangovers can lead to a ‘hangxiety‘ crisis and there’s no cure. Managing corporate issues and crisis communications can cause anxiety as well and requires good stamina. Remaining calm helps navigate rough seas faster.

With many ‘retox’ parties planned for February, we have something to look forward to. In the meantime, don’t despair come 21 January (otherwise known as ‘Blue Monday’, the most miserable day of the year).

Remember that every issue (even a hangover!) is an opportunity for a new perspective and a new and better start to the year.

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