There is a common misconception that there is only one type of communications crises in the world of public affairs and that all crises should be responded to in the same manner. There are essentially three different types of crises: systemic, adversarial and image.
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A systemic crisis often involves something related to the organization. The employee crisis is the type that is faced whenever a workforce is affected in some manner, such as through layoffs, loss of life, etc. The consumer crisis takes places whenever the public confidence in an organization is lost due to an error in operations. This would include a defective product. The consumer crisis can quickly escalate into an image crisis if the matter is not dealt with in a rapid and effective manner.
The most frequent mistake made in attempting to handle any crisis is not simply following common sense. The worst thing you can do when facing any type of crisis is to ignore the problem and not change priorities. It is important to implement the protocols you established in advance to deal with the crisis – you did that, correct? Never allow lawyers to direct the public relations policy. Do not make the mistake of trying to withhold information and always correct errors immediately.
Reference: Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch.
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