Monday, December 13, 2010

Red Cross finds $90k has gone missing

On 6 Dec 2010, the Singapore Red Cross Society (SRCS) reported that one of its employee had misappropriated $90,000.  In a positive example of how crisis communications in the era of social media should be done, the SRCS' response incorporated the 5 essential elements of an effective crisis communications plan.  As a result of their effective response, Asia One News reported on 8 Dec that "donors here remain confident in the charitable efforts of the Singapore Red Cross Society." 

Firstly, the SRCS was timely and open in managing this crisis.  The SRCS made the police report on 3 Dec (Fri) and the SRCS issued a press release on 5 Dec (Sun).  Secondly, the SRCS was 100% truthful about the circumstances leading to the misappropriation and accepted responsibility for the error.  Thirdly, the SRCS ensured that their message was broadly communicated and that it had an Internet presence.  This was engendered via the issuing of a press release and then following up with the posting of an open letter of apology by it Secretary General on the Society's website.

The SCRS' crisis communication plan allowed the Society to successful gain the information initiative.  By doing so, the Society (a) established/ reinforced its credibility in the eyes of stakeholders; (b) allowed the Society to frame the incident as a one-off lapse; and (c) prevented the crisis from spiraling out of control via a lack of information.  The SRCS' handling of this crisis is a classic example of how crisis communications, when done correctly, can mitigate any negative fall-out.

If there is however one thing that the SRCS could have done better, it is to capitalise on this opportunity to reinforce its brand image.  This the SRCS could have done by simply incorporating the Society's Vision or Values into the various Messages being released.

Overall, a job well done for the crisis communication team at the SRCS.

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