Rebranding interview: Hansen’s Ice Cream Changes Name to Hansen’s

Kemp & Kjær got a call from Politiken, who wanted an interview in connection with Hansens Flødeis changing its name to Hansens.

I was interviewed about what it means when a brand changes its name, what works and what doesn’t, and what considerations you should make beforehand so as not to risk losing any goodwill that may already be behind your old brand name.

The interview could subsequently be read in Politiken:

Rare name changes: “I spend a lot of resources saying it when I pick up the phone”
(Politiken, 16. Apr. 2022)

Don’t if you can!

Bottom line is: Don’t change your name if you can. It takes a lot of knowledge and effort to rebrand, and if you regret it, it’s expensive to switch back or choose a new one. And that signals “wiggle room”.

If you then choose a new name, it is important to have secured the most important domain names so that the business is easy to find on the internet and so that it is not confused with others. It can be costly if you forget in the process.

A successful and meaningful shift is, for example. DONG to Ørsted (one hardly associates Ørsted with DONG today, because they also changed overall strategy).

Jakob guides to say “sorry” in Loud (soon 24Syv)

Excuse me? Yes, I end up saying that myself after three quarters!

Today I was on Radio Loud in a sober wise-guy programme, “The Boiling Point” with Filiz Yasar, together with Kim Ege Møller from Rhetorica, to discuss the “apology” as a communication phenomenon. This is against the tragic backdrop of the MeToo documentary on TV2 (watch it!) on Discovery+.

We will continue the conversation on Wednesday, when we will comment on the latest developments cf. Berlingske’s interview tonight with BT’s editor in chief Michael Dyrby. On Wednesday I will be joined by Lisa Storm Villadsen, professor of communication at the University of Copenhagen, Henrik Kragelund, owner of and Lawand Hiwa Namo, debater.

Here are three pointers from today that can ensure that your apology does as much good as possible – while limiting your own loss of face, ensuring that the offended person experiences real empathy, and ensuring that you can achieve (some) forgiveness.

How to get forgiveness?

– Engage in open, listening dialogue right away if someone tells you they are offended or angry with you and your company. It increases the chance of defusing criticism and getting a sincere apology, or maybe just clearing up a misunderstanding.

– If there is the slightest need to apologise, do it ASAP. The more you have to be driven to the apology, the less sincere the apology will seem, and the less you will get of the forgiveness that is a possibility after the good apology.

– Take the consequences. Pay compensation. Accept dismissal, court ruling – or make sure you actually improve the process in your company that was the problem, and show it concretely to the violator(s). Otherwise, the excuse comes across as hollow.

Beware of the victim card!

If you want to play the victim card instead of apologising, you’d better have BOTH justice on your side AND the sympathy of the majority of the “audience”. If you’re not right, then the sympathy will typically disappear when it all unfolds. And it happens!

These principles also apply in personal and private matters …

The 1000-dollar question is then: When it’s now SO easy and nice to say sorry quickly, why doesn’t the quick apology always come?

Part of the answer is that it takes a long time for people to realise they’ve made a mistake. Especially powerful and successful people often cannot see their own mistakes and refuse to lose face. That was also one of my points today, and if you want to read an account that underlines that, read Dyrby’s interview on

Listen to the report from. December 7 here:

And the feature from. December 8:

Kemp & Kjær in expert interview on the DanBred scandal

Kemp & Kjær was called by Jyllands-Posten to comment on the crisis in Landbrug & Fødevarer, which was called the Danbred case.

I was interviewed to give an insight into how Landbrug & Fødevarer has handled the communication around the case, and what it may mean for the future.

The interview could subsequently be read in Jyllands-Posten, Finans and Agriwatch under the same headline:

“Pig chairman hits back at attack from resigned farm director: She herself spearheaded handling of harassment case”

Read the story here:

, Nov 3, 2021
, Nov 3, 2021

Nov 3, 2021

Avoid public fights!

From a communication point of view, a fight in public is never a good thing, so it’s important to put a stop to it as soon as possible. As long as a disagreement remains visible, it can backfire on an organisation.

Whatever has happened in reality, the public will form its own picture from the media coverage and remember the situation from its own existing prejudices. In this case, when the #MeToo debate was at its height, most would probably see Anne Arhnung as a lone woman among many men who quit in protest of a male-dominated culture.

After a public fight, it is important to get your organisation under control internally as soon as possible so that similar situations are not exposed in the media in the future, where people are then confirmed in their negative perception of the organisation. Otherwise, the crisis will be like a ghost that can haunt your fire again and again.

Jakob L. Falhof new associate partner in Kemp & Kjær

On 1 May we welcomed Jakob L. Falhof. 

Jakob F. comes with solid experience as both a former news editor at Bo Bedre, and as a communications consultant for a number of companies and organizations.

At Kemp & Kjær, he will both help our existing clients and be responsible for our work with premium design brands. 

Read more about Jakob F here:

Trine Jakobsen employed by Kemp & Kjær

Trine Jakobsen started at Kemp & Kjær in April.

They wrote about it on Bureaubiz:

We are happy that Trine has started and she will contribute to a wide range of our customers. You can read about her solid experience and her strong profile here:

We are looking for a PR consultant and potential partner (completed)

An experienced PR consultant is wanted who wants to help build an agency. You will have a great influence on how we and you work, and you will help to grow the agency from 3 to 10 consultants.

You must be passionate about both tech PR and stakeholder PR, and love working with international clients.

We hire a new consultant because we are too busy to both grow and deliver with the quality we want.

Our growth is backed by solid capital resources, which you can hear more about when we meet and talk.

We are resp. a West Jutlander and a North Jutlander who have settled in Copenhagen a long time ago and who have conducted PR together for over six years.

Our customers (and we) claim that we combine Jutlandic temperament & common sense with academic insight, news addiction and a solid understanding of our customers’ business. The best of two-three-four worlds. We must continue along that path – but Jutland’s origin is not a requirement, on the contrary.

NB: We have previously had a couple of great employees who did really well, but we did not have enough work for them when Covid19 closed a number of customers’ activities. We have learned a lot from it, won a number of new customers, and are now ready to kickstart a new growth journey.

Your role

  • You can fill all roles from trusted, strategic advisor, over “the pitching press pusher” to dexterous & whimsical writer.
  • You can write press pitches, press releases, articles and op-eds.
  • You are sharp, serious and empathetic when you are on the phone daily with journalists on behalf of our customers.
  • You need to interview stakeholders, navigate attitudes, extract razor-sharp quotes.
  • You advise the customer on the best PR move right now, create strategy, and come up with creative ideas on how to create more PR when the great stories are not available at the customer at that moment.
  • You need to create results – often on a tight time budget.
  • You understand the importance of good press photos and do NOT have ambitions to take them yourself.
  • Now & then you write a newsletter or a Linkedin post or ad copy for customers.
  • And if you want, then you may spend some working time creating your own profile as a communications consultant via blogs, video, and social media – what works for you.
  • Most important of all: You must contribute to our growth, to create a strong agency, and to help develop how we work.

Your profile:

  • You have worked for at least three years at a PR agency (internship does not count).
  • If you come with revenue yourself, we agree on a partner model for it.
  • You have created tech PR, B2B, organizations, and other things that have inspired you and expanded your palette.
  • You can both write and pitch.
  • You can think strategically.
  • Perspective: You want to help build a medium-sized, specialized PR agency.
  • You have created results – and you can prove it.
  • You are service-minded and cooperative: We fight hard for our nice & innovative customers every day, and we help each other when we are busy.

This is what you will meet with us, and you must be able to see yourself in it:

  • We have healthy values and we live them. Among other things, it deals with that we do not do “gunslinger PR”: An uninteresting story is worthless, even if it is published in Børsen.
  • Our customers are a large number of SMEs, a few large companies, several international companies, a few organizations. We treat them equally respectfully, regardless of size.
  • PR for tech companies and stakeholder PR for organizations are what do.
  • We also work for international clients and have networks among agencies in a large number of countries.
  • Our values include “transparency”, both to our customers and internally. E.g. you can give and receive feedback in a constructive way and you can make sure customers know what you are doing.
  • We have an office in a small office community, located in a peaceful neighborhood by Lokomotivværkstedet, which is on its way to becoming the nicest urban area in Copenhagen. The office has old plank floors and is state-of-the-art, and the whole area is currently slightly industrial. The coffee is sublime and self-served on a giant café machine.
  • We also have a fairly thorough IT setup, where some parts are great and some can be improved. And everything is constantly being developed.
  • We typically work in the office, but we like to take days working from home. Video conferencing has been an integral part of everyday life for us for five years, both internally and with customers.
  • In addition, we are generally in a good mood, love to discuss news, business and politics, had an excellent second half of 2020 – and a growth potential that you must help to fulfill.
Working hours are full time and there are no expectations of massive overtime. The salary depends on the value you can create for the agency.

The first interview will probably be online, but we do not hire without having had at least one physical meeting.

Send your application and CV to .

We call for interviews regularly, so there is no need to wait. If you have questions about the position before you apply, contact Jakob Hessellund on tel. +45 4038 4586.

Why would you like to be mentioned in Børsen?

If the answer is “sales”, you will probably be disappointed. Here are five typical features of reviews that generate sales – and two logical reasons why most reviews do not lure the reader’s leather out of his pocket.

When we ask new or potential customers what their purpose is in getting press coverage, it is often about sales. I understand that; the company’s purpose, growth and profits are achieved by attracting customers.

But that’s far from all the media coverage you can measure in sales KPIs the week after.

Most publicity has a positive branding effect, which makes your business better known and your customers would rather trade with you than with others.

This is good for you – and the reason why many people use press coverage as a strong link in branding and marketing.

NB: Always remember that a media and a journalist is not put in the world to advertise for you. They need to inform and perhaps entertain their readers, and most journalists have an instinctive resistance to getting to advertise companies. You just have to be happy about that, because it only gives the publicity greater credibility.

But – why not “sell” a specific mention? And when does it do?

When does an article “sell”?

It’s hard to predict.

But some of the factors that make an article generate sales are:

1) You have a product that is really lacking in the market right now and that readers have not heard of before.

2) Your product solves a problem that people did not think they could solve.

3) Your product appeals to a lot of people, has news value and is highly differentiated in the competition.

4) The review focuses on the benefits of your product, e.g. through a customer case or if it is a positive review.

5) At the same time as the mention, you run hard marketing and use the mention on social media to create hype about the product.

Why does a media coverage not sell?

Two reasons why a journalistic article does not act as a product advertisement:

1) In an article, there is no call-to-action (CTA) like “Buy HERE for 99.95” – you can do that in commercials. And there is only rarely a link to your website.

As written in the introduction: In a classic journalistic article, do not expect any CTA, because it would be advertising and outside the purpose of the media.

NB: Some media, especially magazines, have sections with product news. They typically include a CTA in the form of prices and links.

2) It’s not about your product, but about you and your business. So the reader is not “pushed” to shop with you. And you just have to be happy about it! It is branding that provides sales in the long run. Especially in combination with marketing (see point 5 above).

Examples of sales-generating PR

1) App in the construction industry

A large case-based mention in a leading Danish business media early in the company’s life gave a lot of attention and speaking time to the big players in the construction industry.

The discussion focused on the benefits that the industry could achieve as a whole, and was borne by the CEO of a large construction company, at the same time as Dansk Industri participated together with the CEO of the construction app.

2) Newly started consulting house

A short portrait review in a leading Danish business newspaper gave our customer a number of leads.

In the interview, our customer told us that their service filled a gap in the market – that was also the news value for the newspaper.

3) Supplier to dentists

An IT company would like to be better known among dentists.

Through a series of media mentions targeting dentists, the IT company became a more well-known face among the potential customers, and it helped open the door when they called and booked appointments.

4) Sharing economic service

A mention in a business newspaper at the launch of the company was boosted on Facebook. It provided a huge number of signups of users of the service.

Call to action: Call me

Yes, you do not see that headline in a newspaper article. But on a blog you have to feel good!

So if you want to know more about branding, sales & press coverage – and how to find the stories a journalist wants to tell his audience – call Jakob Hessellund on 40 38 45 86 or write to .

More PR & communication advice

8 tips that attract the best employees

SoMe Guide: Getting Extra Value Out of Press Releases

Media players: How do you activate them?

Do you know your startup lingo? 10 words you should know

Narrow media: What are the consequences for you?

What does narrow media mean for your PR? And what is the Google trap? Here are four trends in the media landscape plus a guide to using them to your advantage – and a list of new Danish niche media.

Media coverage in the right media gives credibility to your brand and can be used in online marketing and sales work.

But the media landscape is constantly changing and requires adaptation of your PR strategy: In the new media landscape, search engines and paywalls provide extra complexity. Read here how to behave.

1. The media is narrowing

Several nationwide newspapers have struggled with the economy for some years, after readers have moved online and cancelled their paper subscription. It has meant editorial restructuring where>> a simpler structure in the company has lowered costs<< more places. The media has narrowed down by downgrading the number of newsrooms.

At BT, which has the largest growth at Berlingske Media, the number of newsrooms has been cut to three, and the journalists work exclusively with ‘news’, ‘sports’ and ‘entertainment’. The other dailies have not (yet?) become so narrow, but the trend is going in that direction.

What does the narrowing mean for your PR work?

The media that used to write about your business may not do that anymore. Therefore, you need to look for alternative media – or angles – to get through.

With the right story for the right media, it may still be possible to find a channel for your news.

Do you want to come up with an accounting story for your fintech company in the major media? Has Berlingske or Børsen written about your company recently?

Use the online media search feature to find articles about you (or the competitor) or about topics like ‘tech’, ‘finance’ and ‘fintech’.

Call the journalist and say that you have a story that is interesting to him / her – who has written several accounting stories for Danish fintechs lately.

2. Niche media is gaining ground

As the larger media has tightened, niche media is on the rise. These media write about a specific niche – your industry, your target group’s industry, a profession – and therefore cater to a narrower and clearly defined target group.

Several major media outlets have jumped on the bandwagon and have started their own niche media *. See for example Jyllands-Posten’s Watchmedier , Børsen Pro Finans , Politics School life and Byrum (probably not the last media we have seen from Politiken Nicher). Even a narrow medium like the Engineer splits up into smaller niches on their medium The Engineer Pro .

See a list of niche media with specific audiences at the bottom of the blog post.

The niche media typically write about more “nerdy” and academic stuff. And because the niche material is particularly relevant to their readers, the media can more easily get users to pay for the editorial content – for e.g. to keep up with what is happening in the supply, dental or veterinary industry.

What does the progress in niche media mean for your PR work?

The niche media help you by gathering your specific target group in one place and can therefore be the right channel to use when your target group is narrow.

In addition, media coverage in the right niche media can have a greater effect on the bottom line than coverage in an omnibus media.

The right niche media will often go into more detail with specific specifications for your new software integration – and the story will be read by your core target group, who subscribe to the media and thereby have access to read the article about your company.

If the niche media is in its infancy, you may be lucky to get the article unlocked. The media might use it to pique the interest of potential readers if your story hits the target audience on the grain.

If the medium is already established within the niche, the target audience will often have access to read your story, so do not be intimidated by publishing it behind paywall.

3. Advertorials in progress

Another way that media houses secure revenue is with paid content.

Advertorials, or ‘native ads’, is a sponsored article that maintains the same editorial tone and format as the media in which it is printed. Therefore, each advertorial is written for a specific medium by either you, your PR agency or a paid writer on the medium.

* Some commercials are also made as articles – for example the classic ‘Many people experience pain in the lower back, but with these pills…’, which consists of a mixture of images and text. It does not make them advertorials, because they do not have to live up to the editorial standard and are not included as an actual article in the medium.

Users read and share advertorials even though the content appears to be sponsored. If your article is legitimate and written based on the media’s editorial tone, then it does not lose its credibility just because you have paid for it. In other words, you should rejoice that the medium makes demands on style and content because it results in increased credibility.

What does progress in advertorials mean to you?

Advertorials give you the opportunity to draw on the media’s credibility, while at the same time having a great say in how your story is told. You also have the opportunity to come up with (selected) commercial messages that typically do not reach through the journalists’ filter.

Maybe you want to tell a story where you yourself are the expert, instead of journalists pulling the competitor in to “legitimize” your interpretation?

You can also use advertorials to ensure that relevant niche media brings news about you regularly so that you remain ‘top of mind’ with your core audience.

4. Click and lifetime

A popular misconception is that an article is “on target” once it has gone online.

Unlike paper newspapers, which are typically thrown out the day after publication, the online media leaves the articles on their side, so that the reading basket of online articles typically breaks only after several days. The article therefore has a longer life cycle online.

In addition to journalistic quality, you also measure the value of online articles on clicks, shares, and how long users read in them. Therefore, journalists typically assume that the column (headline) of your story piqued readers’ curiosity enough to make them click on the article.

A well-known saying in journalism is:
“A good column is evocative, arousing and comprehensive”.

Articles with a good headline get better placement on the site, more clicks, more shares on social media and attract more readers to the media page.

Sharp boxes fill in editorial meetings at all media houses. They must always fit the content of the article – ie. be ‘comprehensive’ – if the article is not to be dismissed as ‘clickbait’ (typically used for headlines that entice clicks by hiding what the article is about, or signaling sensation without it being real).

What does click and article life mean to you?

When you get a media coverage, you should activate it on social media . That way, you can give the article a longer life cycle, while of course you can share your progress with your network. In addition, popular articles are typically allowed to stay on the front page for longer periods of time.

If the journalist experiences that the story of your company is doing well on the site, he or she will typically also be more likely to write about you again.

When pitching to a journalist, have a well-thought-out, sharp and catchy box ready – approx. 5-10 words that quickly show that your story is good. Your chances are better if the journalist can see your story for himself with a good column that will do well on the site.

That is not to say that you can sell anything with skewed (but comprehensive) puns. Use the box to give your good story better chances of being read in the inbox.

5. Google: The back of the new media reality

Negative media coverage typically gets more clicks. And due to the long life cycle of online articles, a mention can haunt you for a long time after publication, should you be unlucky enough to get one.

Therefore, be careful not to trumpet the company’s difficult periods with large arm movements – even after the crisis is over.

Instead, divert your thinking to good things in life, such as being interviewed about a business crisis. Even if the mistake has not happened in your company.

‘We were close to bankruptcy, but got upstairs again’, can quickly end up as ‘Close to bankruptcy’. And you do not bother to have it as a search result on Google. Sanity will give the journalist fewer gold nuggets for scandal-clickbait.

In addition, you run the risk of a negative publicity ending up at the top of your business’s Google rankings – and staying put because the article remains on the media site.

A bankruptcy column can therefore be the first thing that potential investors, business partners or customers see when they google your business if you are not careful.

What can you do yourself?

If your success story ended with a “bankruptcy text” at the top of Google due to a sharp-edged box, you can try to enter into a dialogue with the journalist. The media will probably not tear down your article, but maybe you can negotiate placement, paywall or a new column – if the error has occurred with the journalist.

You can also work on getting more, and positive, media reviews through regular PR – or advertorials, which you can pay for get a long life on the media and thereby more clicks.

Want to explore your media coverage options? write to field or Jacob for sparring about PR.

Online niche media under major Danish media houses

Payment niche media at the larger Danish media houses:


Watch media under JP:

The stock exchange

the policy

Published by Politiken Nicher A / S.

The engineer

The engineer is not owned by JP-Politiken like the other three main media above, but by IDA, the trade union for engineers.

The engineer PRO contains the following niche media:

More PR & communication advice

8 tips that attract the best employees

SoMe Guide: Getting Extra Value Out of Press Releases

Media players: How do you activate them?

Do you know your startup lingo? 10 words you should know

Insider tip: PR prices in Europe

When we talk to customers, we prefer to talk about strategy, concrete angles and relevant media for their history. But what does it cost? We review prices for PR in Denmark and other countries from our European PR network, Enterie .

There is an element of unpredictability in PR (an aspect of why PR is valuable!), Which can affect the price. However, we have a number of standard prices for tasks that are similar across Europe. At the bottom of the article you will find indicative prices for PR services in Europe based on medium-sized tech startups.

First, we review a number of factors that you need to be aware of when making an appointment with a PR agency.

Success fee?

Many ask if they can pay for success, ie. for published articles instead of paying for the time we spend.

In the PR industry, it is considered unethical to be paid per. press coverage because it can lead to an unhealthy relationship between PR agency and editorial staff. It is per. definition not possible for the PR agency to guarantee that a journalist and a media will write about a particular company, and therefore there is no guarantee of publicity when buying a PR service.

Our customers pay for our efforts, not for the individual items. Of course, one can set up KPIs for what one wants to achieve. Then we give an estimate of how much effort it takes, as well as how confident we are in being able to reach them – and end up with either a variable hourly agreement or a fixed price.

Hourly rates

Hourly rates vary according to the consultant’s qualifications and experience, and they span 2-3-4 levels – junior, general. consultant and senior / partner. Often the agreement is with one hourly rate, after which the agency distributes the work internally.

Project vs. retainer

“Projects” give themselves: If a company has one story – name change, merger, acquisition – that they want to tell from their own angle, before the media intercepts the news and tells it themselves, you can do PR on a single project.

The “retainer” is more long-term: It is an agreement on ongoing PR efforts with a fixed number of hours and a monthly price. This type of deal is typically cheaper per. hour than projects – simply as a volume discount.

Sometimes it can take months to find the right opportunity to reach a particular medium that is important to the customer. Other times, a story requires follow-up over an extended period of time to end up in print.

With the retainer, the PR consultants can follow efforts over time, while at the same time working on other stories – for the benefit of the customer’s brand.

Clipboards and crisis communication

For unforeseen projects: Even if you have a retainer agreement, an ad hoc project may be needed on top. This can be in the form of limited projects at a fixed price or a scrap card with prepaid hours, which can be used flexibly. Prepayment typically means discount.

Crisis communication is another story. It typically requires the agency to be on standby 24/7 with a huge workload for a short period of time. Therefore, crisis management is usually on an hourly basis, often at a higher hourly rate.

The size of the PR agency

Large, global PR firms are typically more expensive than small independent agencies. Both types of agencies have advantages and disadvantages.

Large consulting firms have higher costs, which ultimately have to be covered by the customers – prestigious offices, high salaries, sharing profits with the network owners. In return, customers gain access to global know-how and prestige. Therefore, global companies often choose global PR agencies.

Smaller agencies run with more down-to-earth prices as they are more flexible and have lower operating costs. Smaller companies usually choose smaller agencies. It gives them better commitment and service and ensures that the customer does not drown in a customer portfolio of major brands.

What else is important?

Other factors that affect the price of international PR are:

  • Industry specialization – deep knowledge of a specific industry is valuable
  • Market size – the larger the market, the higher the prices
  • Salaries in the respective market – this is the biggest cost in a PR agency
  • Local market conditions – especially the supply of PR services

Although the European market is steadily leveling off, you can expect higher prices in the UK. The UK is a lucrative market and is often seen as a way into other English-language markets.

Germany also pays more due to its large market potential and decentralization with many Länder. Each region in Germany has its own media ecosystem with media hotspots in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Munich and Hanover. It requires a lot of effort to cover the whole of Germany, so it pays to be specific in terms of PR to whether the whole of Germany is the market – or whether certain cities or regions are “enough”.

You can expect slightly lower prices in Southern Europe and much lower prices in Eastern Europe – thanks to the relatively lower wages.

But again, there are many factors – and you need to consider whether it is relevant to you at all with PR in each country.

European PR prices

Examples of PR services for companies looking to enter new markets in Europe :

Starter package (3 months project) ** 6700 5400 6000 9150 6750 5700 6300 11200 9225
Basic benefits (monthly) *** 3500 1800 3000 3750 2000 1950 4000 3900 4000
Hourly rate – junior consultant 100 30 100 100 30 30 100 85 110
Hourly rate – Senior consultant 200 60 200 200 200 70 200 225 185

All prices net in EUR.

* Estimates provided by our partners in Enterie , a network of independent PR agencies for startups and fast-growing and disruptive companies.

** Starter package – a 3-month launch project for entry into a new market. This package covers:

  • strategy and message development
  • prepare and distribute a press release on launch
  • handling 1-2 interviews with media
  • write and pitch 2 articles for media
  • media monitoring and reporting

*** Basic retainer – within a longer agreement that includes each month:

  • run a local press office
  • handle press inquiries and answer questions
  • media monitoring
  • maintain and update a custom media list
  • write and distribute 1 press release
  • write and pitch 2 articles
  • seek out opportunities to comment on stories in the media
  • ongoing advice

Contact Jakob & Mark, if you want to spar about PR in new European markets.

We are a member of several PR networks and are used to collaborating across national borders.

More PR and communication advice

Entering new markets: PR dos and don’ts

Live out your values and avoid shitstorms

8 tips that attract the best employees

Do you know your startup lingo? 10 words you should know

Position yourself as the expert in your field

Crisis? Stop the accident and communicate wisely

I have always thought that if I had to explain my take on crisis communication, I would start with the fact that the first point in a communication crisis is the same as in first aid:

Stop the accident.

For the first aid course last weekend, I was taught that the first point in first aid has recently been changed to “establish safety” instead of “Stop the accident”. Simply because too many people were injured in an attempt to “stop” the accident!

And in terms of communication, I agree: You can break your neck in an attempt to stop the accident if you are not aware of where you put your feet. A classic, suicidal mistake is not communicating.

But how do you “eastablish safety” during a crisis in the company?

Step 1: “Establish safety”

Clean up.

Fix the problem.

Make sure there is no problem.

You know, truly, genuinely, for real.

If someone in the organization has done something wrong, something unethical or criminal – or delivered far below what one might expect, to a customer who then complains – if you are in any way responsible for and in control over what triggers the problem, then start fixing it by all available means.

If it is something external that you are not responsible for or in control of – such as if one of your suppliers is using child labor or your law firm has looted a state through a dividend tax scam, then consider whether you should change supplier.

Remember that your communication is always based on your actions and values. If you smear lipstick on a pig, it rubs it off after a short time.

You can gain crucial, life saving “points” by communicating credibly, clearly, convincingly, with authority. And you will lose by doing the opposite – letting yourself be driven around in the manège by aggressive critics and journalists who want a conflict story.

If a company has ended up in the gallows, the public can remember it long after, even if corrected.

Step 1.9: Important stakeholders

Communicate to your most important stakeholders. The main shareholder, the major customers, the sole supplier. They should not read about the problem in the press before they hear from you.

Step 2: Communicate wisely

Once you have started the clean-up – established safety – you can start communicating. In principle, this can happen immediately if you discover the problem.

(NB: See modification on SoMe crises below)

Tell publicly what you do.

You can do it gradually while you investigate the extent of the problem. Accept that during a period of crisis you have a bad image. It can disappear as things work out. Be accommodating and think before you communicate.

Say sorry if an apology is relevant.

Meet critics: Do not deny that something has happened and don’t blame others if you yourself have a bit of responsibility for it happening. Just don’t.

But… ehm… can’t we just simply stop talking about it?


Today, the problem is that with the easy access to media – especially social media – and electronic communication, everything escapes, sooner or later. And then you are faced with a new credibility problem: That you have lied – and when will you lie again?

So take the bull by the horns and lay things out as they are.

Step 0: Preparation

How comprehensive is a crisis preparedness to be?

It depends on how seriously you may be injured and what the probability for that is.

How expensive is it if the largest customer finds out that you have had a large data leak? Can any scenarios threaten the existence of the company? And what is the value of insuring against annihilation?

Think through possible crisis scenarios and their consequences, and make an action plan. It doesn’t have to be very complicated, but the plan is important to have ready.

How to prepare the company’s crisis preparedness

Involve all employees – they may have bids for risks that you have overlooked in management.

1) Prepare a clear division of roles:

– Who is the spokesperson, who assists. If necessary, train the spokesperson in media management.

– Who should be involved in decisions about what the crisis communication should contain.

2) Have a press kit ready:

You do not have time to update it during a crisis, so make sure you have an updated fact-based press kit (it is NOT the latest written sales speech, but a (web) page with facts such as addresses and phone numbers, main activities, press contact person, management & board, owners, link to photos, etc.).

3) Have a media list ready:

– Which media do you need to get hold of? The list of journalists and their possible contact info must be updated regularly.

And a valuable bonus tip:

4) Monitor the media:

– Set up searches on services like Talkwalker. Also establish surveillance on social media. Check the reports daily for “hits” that you need to follow up on.

Step 2019: SoMe crises – “Push” or “Pull”?

Has there been a negative post on Facebook?

Initially: Breathe. Perhaps give an answer according to the “Pull” / “Press” philosophy by Katrine Emme Thielke, described below.

“Pressure” covers a potentially conflict-escalating response: teaching with three tons of facts, telling people (or ‘the idiot !!!’) that they are wrong, and that you yourself are flawless, and so on.

It can be the start of a fight in the comment track, which can attract a lot of bad attention. You should avoid using it.

Instead of “Push” you can resort to “Pull”.

“Pull” is the welcoming and appreciative strategy: go with the user instead of against, ask about the user’s experience, show understanding, gradually help the user to solve the problem and ask if the users have any suggestions on how you can do better yourself.

“Pull” communication can thoroughly dismantle the discussion before it becomes a fight – and the user may end up becoming an ambassador because he or she was met with sincere interest.

Ambassador? Yes, I have tried it with an incipient shitstorm once – I went into direct dialogue on Messenger, clarified some facts, told what was the background and what we did. The negative publicity about our company was taken down and a laudatory mention was posted instead.Write me for a review of that case.

NB: If required, ask (nicely) for a proper tone – you should never accept foul language or being scolded. YOU control your Facebook page and can set clear rules for what you want to tolerate. It can easily be done directly, objectively and kindly – and feel free to use smileys.

I can recommend reading Katrine Emme Thielke’s blog post – and her book – on social media communication.

A result of her work with analyzing commentary tracks in e.g. DSB was a framework she calls “Press & Pull Communication”.

Do you want sparring about crisis preparedness, or are you in the middle of a shitstorm?

write to Jakob & Mark .

More PR & communication advice

Shitstorms and relationships: 5 tips for crisis communication

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SoMe Guide: Getting Extra Value Out of Press Releases

Media stakeholders: How do you activate them?

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