People Panic

We all know the importance of giving the public good advice in a crisis. If an issue is dealt with calmly then you might avoid a tense situation. Being prepared is half of the battle, with training on how to deal with a crisis you can go about your business knowing that if the worst should happen you have a plan. You’d think this would be a top priority of businesses and the Government alike, especially after last year’s riots spiralled out of control in the media. However, the petrol “shortage” recently hasn’t been helped by the panic created by the mixed messages given by those in charge.

Initially, the news broke as a precaution and the UK was informed that a fuel strike might be on the cards. Predictably this triggered a panic that saw consumers flying to the pumps and topping up unnecessarily. Prime Minister David Cameron advised Britain to “top up” when there was yet to be a strike even confirmed. Instead of acting to stop panic buying, Cabinet Minister Francis Maude told the public that drivers should store petrol “maybe a little bit in the garage as well in a jerry can” just in case.

The seriousness of this ill advice was then highlighted further when a woman from York was taken to hospital with 40% burns after an accident topping up a jerry can in her kitchen. Panic is in the human nature and matters were made worse when the Government missed important opportunities to get the situation under control. It is important to present a clear message and to stick with your point when speaking to an audience.

On a related note, the Oil and Gas industry is often regarded badly by the public possibly due to recent price rises, incidents and strikes. The industry’s trade association recognises the importance of good public relations as they are currently seeking to employ an agency to help them improve their image. The “Oil & Gas UK’s board believes that the industry is ‘widely misunderstood’ and ‘recognises that positive public perception can create “safe space” for politicians to make positive policy choices in relation to the industry’”. The public holds a lot of power and so maintaining a positive reputation can be in your favour. Taking time to train your staff in the basics such as Communications and Social media can transform opinions quickly and painlessly. Remember – people panic but in business you can’t afford to.

Written by Meegan – – April 2012

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