Friday, September 25, 2015

Crisis Communications: Epicfail of Shuqun Secondary School Bully Incident

The recent handling of the Shuqun Secondary school bullying incident has revealed how inapt organizations can be at handling crisis.

shuqun secondary school bully crisis

Statements issued by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the school raised more questions and angst amongst parents than they sought to alleviate. The most disconcerting for parents was the revealation that an "adjunct teacher who was in class during the incident last Friday has been spoken to".

While there are many lessons to be learnt from this, let me just focus on one ... understanding the difference between issue and concerns.

A common mistake when issuing statements in crisis situations is for the organization to address the issue and not the concern of the stakeholders. In this instance, stating that an adjunct teacher was present addresses the issue of class supervision. It however fails to address parents' concern about the safety of their children in school. In fact, stating that a teacher was present, makes the crisis worse as it alludes to a bigger failure of the system.

Generally, issue refers to the Stakeholder's “agenda” towards a particular incident/ crisis, while concerns refers to the Stakeholder's assessment of the impact of the incident on them.

For example, in the scenario of an explosion at a factory, the issue to regulators would be your company's adherence to fire safety protocols, while the concern would be public perception of the regulator's enforcement regime or lack thereof. For the same scenario, the issue to employees would be the damage to their work place, but the concern would be their continued employment. From the scenario, it is clear that addressing the issue, would not address the concern of the stakeholders.

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For information on how CWFA can prepare your organization to successfully manage a crisis situation, contact anna[a]cwfongandassociates.com.

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