Proactive Crisis Management – Washington State vs. Washington D.C.

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    Sometimes it takes a crisis to solve one

    Millions of gallons of radioactive goop are threatening to leak into the ground of eastern Washington state, and it’s not the fun, ninja-turtle-creating kind. Here’s a quote, from a SeattlePI article by Shannon Dininny:

    The long-delayed cleanup of the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site became the subject of more bad news Friday when Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that a radioactive waste tank there was leaking.

    The news raises concerns about the integrity of similar tanks at south-central Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation and puts added pressure on the federal government to resolve construction problems with the plant being built to alleviate environmental and safety risks from the waste.

    The tanks, which are already long past their intended 20-year life span, hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons.

    This is a fine example of using proactive crisis communications to direct or redirect the heat where you want it focused – away from your organization and onto another.

    The governor is far more likely to find results by taking the issue into the court of public opinion as opposed to using traditional channels. While requests from his office to the national government can easily be ignored, or “lost in the shuffle,” a public outcry against the Department of Energy’s handling of the situation makes it far more difficult to avoid addressing. This is especially true given the diligence and level of commitment evidenced by many environmentalist groups, of which there is no short supply in Washington.

    Sometimes, to manage a crisis, you have to spur others into action. When asking nicely just won’t work, it may be time to try proactive crisis management.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is the Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]