The need for speed
Those with an interest in crisis management often use the term ‘golden hour’, borrowed from the medical profession, which, depending on your choice of dictionary, may be defined as “the period immediately following a serious injury, when skilled treatment is urgently required” or “the first hour after a traumatic injury, when emergency treatment is most likely to be successful”.
In crisis management terms, whilst not necessarily an hour, it’s the period immediately following the initial disruptive incident, during which the decisions made (or not made) and the actions taken (or not taken) have a huge bearing on the success, or otherwise, of the crisis management response.
It’s particularly relevant to crisis communications, because, as we all know, news travels fast these days – and bad news has a nasty habit of travelling much, much faster than good news. The issue here, is that, whereas the golden hour may in the past have been an hour or more, it’s now likely to be significantly less than that. In fact, in these social media-dominated times, it’s been said that the time in which an organisation needs to say something meaningful has reduced to between 7 and 20 minutes.
In the 1986 film Top Gun, fighter pilots ‘Maverick’ and ‘Goose’ famously said “I feel the need, the need for speed” – a sentiment that is also applicable to crisis management and crisis communications. Because time lost in the early stages of a crisis can seriously impact on the success of our crisis management efforts, the degree of control we have over the resulting narrative, our stakeholders’ perceptions of us and our reputation.
So if the golden hour is now more like the golden few minutes, the implication is that we no longer have time to prepare our response after an incident has occurred and, more than ever, we need to be prepared before the event, which means planning, preparation, training and practice.
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