Public Relations: Crisis Management
The aspect of public relations is made to enhance the reputation of a company. In the case of the Mercedes Benz Company, they need to either outsource the function or develop a public relations department that will help them in the management of the company’s image. In the case where the company has the possibility of tarnishing its image due to the events that befall the A class Mercedes Benz model, it may be very important that the company communicates with the media so as to represent the interests of the company in the most effective way possible. The company and especially the public relations department will need to relate with other people and organizations in order to enforce the good will of the company within the community in which it operates in so that the image of the company can be enhanced. The element of image to a company is extremely important basing on the fact that companies need to be competitive in today’s global world so that they can effectively stand out. It is only when the image of the company is favorable that they can boost their sales (Adamson 2002) .The negative public image of the Mercedes Benz Company that has recently been acquired as a result of the roll over incident acts as a potential factor in damaging the company’s reputation and decreasing their sales levels.
In the happenings of any organization, a crisis is bound to occur and to happen from time to time. However, how the crisis is handled and not the crisis itself is bound to linger in the public eye for a longer time frame than initially assumed. It is therefore very essential not to mishandle the management of crisis. Despite the crisis that J and J company had to undergo after the invention of the tyenol capsules which lead to the death of numerous people, the company is still rated as one of the most top American companies, due to the fact that they were able to ably manage and considerably handle the crisis situation that they encountered in the most effective manner. The aspect of leadership and how it is displayed in the process of managing a crisis is what is able to distinguish a reputable firm from one that is just any other firm. Just as stated, it may take ten years to build the image of a company bit it just requires a second to destroy that hard earned image. In this case therefore, the notion of crisis management cannot just be taken literary and it is very important that they are handled effectively as they tend to negatively impact on the trust of the consumers and the performance of the company in the industry where it competes.
In this essay therefore I am going to introduce the aspect of leadership in crisis in the Mercedes Benz Company, as this is a topic that is of very high value especially since it requires more than just corporate management of the firm and call for excellent skills in public relations. In depth therefore, the leaders in the management of a crisis are those that aspire to create a foundation of trust not only among the employees and the members of the organization but also with the external systems of the organization. It is essential that these leaders create foundations that help top prepare the company for the difficult times that are bound to come in order to contain the crises when they occur and so as to leverage the situations as a means of creating and fostering change in the organization and thus leading to better process within the organization.
A crisis can be categorized into two depending on their nature of occurrence. In crisis management, there are basically two classifications which are the shouldering crisis and the sudden crisis .Sudden crises arise due to the fact that some unexpected effects have combated the company and it had no control over the events thus the company can be said to have limited perceived faults in the cause of the crisis the case of smoldering crises the company is held responsible for the cause of the unfortunate events and the leadership of the company is put at fault. In the case of the Mercedes Company the crisis that the company had was not a sudden one but a shouldering one, since it was due to the way the car had been manufactured which management and leadership of the company should have noted before taking the car out for the test drive. To some extent, the crisis was as a result of negligence by the head of the manufacturing team. In the case that a smoldering crisis is well managed, there are chances that it may result to limited harm to the organization as compared to a poorly managed sudden crisis (Tăse 2012).
Phases of crisis management
In order for any company that seeks to remain competitive in the industry in which it operates, it has to assimilate the use of the following phases of crisis so that effective and appropriate leadership can be put in place in order to help combat the effects of the crisis to the firm.
Signal detection. In the case of a shouldering crisis, there are signals that are usually pit in place to detect and depict that an occurrence is not going as planned. However, these signals are rarely effective or put in place in the case of a sudden crisis (Institute for Crisis Management 2003). However, many at times, the management of companies rarely heed to the detection warnings of the signals that have been put in place. The reasons that these red flags are unheeded by the management could be due to the fact that they tend to act in the illusion that the problem cannot affect their company and that problems only happen to other people. Secondly, the leaders may tend to deny the existence of the red flag so that they can better save their image in the sight of their peers and their subordinates. Lastly, this could just be a behavioral problem by the management of the company where the leaders in the company are just not keen to detect the red flags that tend to signal to the likely hood of danger. It has actually been stated that most of the crises that tend to take place are usually sparked off by the management of the company.
The second phase of a crisis is the preparation and the planning phase which basically suggests that in the event that a company and its manager effectively plan and prepare many crises that would have happened to the firm can basically be avoided. It should be noted that due to the fact that it is entirely impossible to prevent the occurrence of crises to a company, the management of the company should in that case therefore enforce proper controls that adequately aid in the planning and preparation the event of a crisis. It is essential therefore that management of company comes up with an effective strategy that will aid them to end a crisis in the event that it occurs (Gupta 2011).
The third phase of managing a crisis is the containment and damage controls which is a very crucial aspect in the recovery of the company business. In this phase the management of the company seeks and sets out to limit the effect of the crisis on the reputation of the company either financially or in other aspects that may tend to threaten the operations of the firm. It is therefore very essential that the Mercedes Benz company mangers come up with an appropriate damage control strategy to end the crisis that took place in the company.
The fourth aspect of crises is the business recovery phase which is mainly concerned with the fact that the company has to get back to doing the business activities as they initially were. It should therefore be the ultimate goal of the management to ensure that the firm is back to business as usual after the management of the crisis. In firms that are involved in action discrimination action law suits, it was noted that the executives of the companies are constantly seeking to assure their stakeholders that everything the company may have undergone a major disruption after the occurrence of the crisis; the company is seeking to instigate and continue carrying out their business affairs as usual. In this stage therefore, an effective managerial leader will be differentiated from one who is ineffective through their ability to consider both the short and the long-term efforts to recover the activities of the firm and to think beyond the usual business paradigms and to act in other new business paradigms.
It is also essential that the organization goes through the process of learning where they are able to acquire new skills in the process of acting on information and its subsequent dissemination throughout the activities of the company (Pearson et al 1993). It is very essential therefore that the Mercedes company adapts the; learning atmosphere and climate in order to effectively manage the crisis that has befallen them. Management should by no means act in a manner that suggests that they are defensive or reactive since thus is inevitably going to prevent and negatively impact upon the learning process of the company. In a typical crisis sequence, an event will occur, and the firm in question will scramble in order to contain the crisis in question, eventually the crisis will be resolved. However, in a company that has embraced the learning approach, the same stages will be witnessed though they will be further modified by the leadership of the company in bid to create and respond to the underlying factors in the organization that may have contributed to the occurrence of the crisis (James et al 2011). The management will also consequently act towards the leveraging of the insights attained so as to facilitate change that is fundamental to the success of the business in terms of its systems and the procedures.
It is very essential that every company leader understand these phases of a crisis so that they can be able to develop competency in their leadership skills so as to effectively lead an organization to successful heights especially in the turbulent times of the organization.
After the successful management of the crisis that the Mercedes Benz Company had gone through it may be essential for the leaders of the company to consider the following six competencies that may help the organization to effective positive change in its processes and the environment in which it operates in.
The six Public relations leadership competencies
The approach that have been mentioned earlier as far the management of crises is concerned are traditional approaches which in the long run tend to be effective and insufficient to ensure that firms propel ahead considering the immense challenges that crises tend to present to n organization. Management of the crisis is simply not enough and therefore, it is essential that the leadership of the company takes up the following competencies to ensure that the firm is far beyond risk (Veil 2011)
The first competency that the firm should take upon it is to build on the aspect of trust. It is very essential that the foundations of the company are pegged on trust so that the implemented strategies can be able to work for the better of the company. It is essential that the staff of the company feel at home at their places of work and those customers develop faith in the products or services that the company ids offering or dealing with. It is therefore very essential that the Mercedes Benz business leaders create an atmosphere of trust that will be able to effectively maintain the relationships of the people in the supply chain of the company. It is essential that for the leaders of the company to build trust, through propagating honest and open communications with their stakeholders which should be done frequently (Reina et al 1999). It is essential that through building trust of the stakeholders of the company that the management of the company also manages their expectations.
Secondly, the management of the company should also create a new corporate mindset that will; be able to reduce the occurrence of more crises happening to the firm. This way they are also able to attain clues on how best to manage the operations of the firm in the event that they are faced with crisis. It is essential that despite focusing on the provirus that the firm is making in the market, the leadership focuses on system controls and the area of processes management (Pearson et al 1998).
The third competence that the leaders of the company should be groomed to attain is the ability to identify the vulnerabilities to the firm that may not appear to be so obvious. In a work pace environment for instance, it is very obvious that triggers of crisis are the malfunctioning of equipment in the company (Kaplan & Mikes 2012). However, leaders have lacked the perspective to view sabotage and the use of the machinery as weapons. In the case of a very competent leader, it is necessary that they light themselves to a position that enables then to effectively anticipate a crisis and plan for the obvious. Leaders of the company must continue to constantly challenge themselves to consider out of the box possibilities that may lead to a crisis.
Another factor for consideration should be the fact that the leader of the company should be in a position to be able to make rapid and wise decisions for the company during and after the occurrence of the crisis. It is essential that the leaders of the company gather appropriate information and generate possible alternatives that can help the company to grow and to forge ahead.
It is also wise that the leadership of the company takes courageous action in times of a crisis, even though the occurrence of a crisis tends to lead to much ambiguity for the business (PIN 2012). The managers of the company should always be very open and not reserved in their actions as this will tend to negatively affect the operations of the company and its image. It is therefore essential that the leaders of the firm act on the crisis as an opportunity and not just vies it as a negative implication for the processes of the firm.
The fifth competence that the leader of the company should be able to enforce is to learn from the crisis so as to be able to effect positive change. It is not possible to adopt a learning mentality through fighting a crisis is therefore very essential that the corporate leaders cultivate a learning mentality. In the processing, the leadership of the organization will be able to reexamine some factors like the culture of the organization, its policies and the procedure there in. The learning process could take place in the following ways: through accepting and facing any information that may suggest an imparity in the leadership of the company, through the encouragement and the reward of people that truthfully communicate problems in the firm, through the process of information sharing and lastly, through making the required changes to the processes of the organization (Jasko et al 2012).
The management of a crisis is a very vital element that the management of the company needs to be well equipped of. Not only does it require competence and skills but also necessitates the use of strategic know how. It is through crisis management in a company that it can either forge ahead or permanently have its reputation damaged beyond repair. In most cases, the issue is not the crisis but how effectively the management of the company handles it and manages it to ensure that the reputation and the image of the company is conserved
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