By Courtney Olmsted

Two years ago, a Kellogg’s plant in Memphis, Tennessee, dealt with an incident where a disgruntled employee urinated in the food production line.

They handled the situation and carried on with business as usual.

This past week, a leaked video of the employee committing the act circulated the Internet. Now Kellogg’s has a communications crisis on its hands.

It doesn’t matter that it happened two years ago, it is news to the masses.

Presumably the communications department at Kellogg’s is now working in overdrive to manage this debacle.

For some of us in the Sheridan PRCC program, issues like this are exciting. We hope to soon be the ones managing these communications crises. We can’t wait to see how this story will unfold.

According to Forbes,  the following common-sense principles can minimize risk in times of crisis:

Address perceptions The gravity of a crisis is proportional to the public’s perception, rather than what actually happened.  

Listen to the people who are complaining People will not listen until they’ve had their say.

Tune in emotionally Interpret the public’s mood.

Always tell the truth Honesty is essential in credibility.

Be accountable for your actions Assume responsibility.

Be professional Formulate clear, inoffensive and unequivocal messages.

While Forbes calls these principles common sense, they are often ignored by corporations, which act before strategically thinking about a communications goal.

It will be interesting to see how Kellogg’s manages public perception regarding this issue. Which “common-sense” approach will they apply?