What are the golden rules of crisis communications? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Lane Kasselman, Crisis Comms Expert, Founder of Greenbrier Strategies, on Quora:

At Greenbrier we follow nine rules for managing a crisis. While not all nine are necessarily applicable in every crisis (actually, that's never happened), often two or three are relevant. In order of importance, I present the nine rules of crisis communications:

Rule #1: What you think happened, probably did.

  • Don't defend the unknown. If you find yourself wishing or self-convincing, stop.

Rule #2: Facts don't need spin.

  • What you attempt to hide will come to light eventually, because there are thousands of savvy journalists working to find the truth at all times.

Rule #3: Bad things happen on weekends, holidays, and when the weather is nice.

  • Social media is 24/7, meaning media cycles are now the same.
  • Never have your entire Communications team off the grid at once.

Rule #4: We all do windows, we all do floors.

  • Many crises turn into an "all-hands" situation; responsibilities can appear at any given time, and no one is above or below any of these tasks.

Rule #5: Don't answer questions based on speculation.

  • Don't be afraid to call out a speculative question: "I'm hesitant to speculate, but what I do know is..."

Rule #6: Saying "don't quote me on that" means that you will be quoted.

  • Always presume that conversations with reporters are "on the record," unless specifically agreed "off" by both parties.

Rule #7: The media is a terrible lens through which to tell your story.

  • A media engagement is a transaction. The press and your company each want something different -- they are rarely the same thing.

Rule #8: Don't repeat the negative.

  • Most people don't hear the actual denial. What registers most is the accusation itself.

Rule #9: Never* use your principal to deliver bad news.

  • *Unless they are excellent on camera + comprehensively media trained.


Rule #10: If you are explaining, you're losing.

  • Resist the "If I could only explain then everyone would understand" instinct - it's always wrong.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter and Facebook. More questions: