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Kate Hartley, the author of Communicate in a Crisis, on the PRmoment podcast

Welcome to the second in a new mini-series of PRmoment podcasts where we interview the authors of books relevant to those who work in PR and communications.

In the last year or so there have been a number of books launched by people I really respect in PR. Frankly, I don’t have time to read them all so, partly for selfish reasons, I thought I’d interview them on this show.

Today I’m interviewing Kate Hartley, the author of Communicate in a Crisis: Understand, Engage and Influence Consumer Behaviour to Maximize Brand Trust.

The book looks at the psychology of a crisis from the consumers’ perspective and focuses on how modern society engages/voices its outrage through social media and the implications of this for brands.

Kate is the MD of independent PR firm Carot and the co-founder of crisis communications modelling training company Polpeo.

Communicate in a Crisis: Understand, Engage and Influence Consumer Behaviour to Maximize Brand Trust is, needless to say, available from Amazon.


Here is a summary of what Kate and I talk about:

[00:02:18] How do ordinary people behave in a crisis situation and why do they respond in that way?

[00:02:31] Why organizations often think about themselves in a crisis, what their response should be and how to protect their own reputation - but what they fail to do is to look at how people are behaving and the drivers behind that.

[00:03:11] Why society is becoming more and more angry.

[00:03:15] How as people we're becoming very polarized. 

[00:03:29] How social media has made these behaviors more visible; given them a digital footprint. 

[00:04:07] Why social media algorithms are driving anger in society. 

[00:05:01] Kate talks us through the ‘outrage cycle’ of social media.

[00:06:33] The role social media plays in a corporate crisis.

[00:07:27] How has social media changed the way that we behave as people in a crisis?

[00:09:49] The echo chamber of anger that Twitter has become.

[00:10:38] Why the traditional way of responding in a crisis of defining your message and then spamming that out across every possible channel is outdated.

[00:15:44] How businesses need to have different scales of crisis.

[00:17:19] Why the management of issues and the management of a crisis are different and businesses should respond differently to each.

[00:19:33] How, for the five biggest corporate crises in the last few years, four out of five of the CEOs of those businesses didn't have their job six months later.

[00:20:18] Kate talks us through the various stages of a corporate crisis: programmable, the crisis ark and recovery. 

[00:21:40] Why a company’s share price will normally recover quicker than its reputation post-crisis. 

[00:22:23] The truism that the "reputation you have going into the crisis is the one that sees you through it.”

[00:24:18] Why, in a crisis situation, you have to communicate before you know everything. 

[00:25:03] Why silence in a crisis creates a gap for misinformation and fake news.

[00:26:44] How to rebuild trust post-crisis.

[00:27:58] How you can measure the impact and recovery from a crisis.

[00:28:53] How can brands prepare for a crisis?

[00:31:41] What early warning systems work to pre-warn you about a crisis?

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