Magazine article Marketing

Experts Keep Firms Cool in a Crisis

Magazine article Marketing

Experts Keep Firms Cool in a Crisis

Article excerpt

In times of trouble it is vital that companies don't react in haste. Systematic contingency planning and the help of a crisis management specialist should stem the damage

Mention Hoover, or Maxwell, or even D-Day and the benefits of crisis management spring to mind. This year's table reveals that more companies are recognising its impact. We now list 20 with significant turnover in this area compared with last year's 15. Nevertheless, the top 15 in this table have a total almost 30% up on 1992.

And even that could be understating the amount spent on managing crises. Some companies write up the crisis manual in-house rather than use an external source. Many PR consultancies put this type of work under the corporate budget; others under financial -- particularly with events like hostile takeovers -- and yet others under consumer. Shandwick, which is not on the list, handles Group 4 on a corporate basis and had to do some crisis managing when prisoners escaped from the company's vans.

Also, some consultancies do not operate separate groups to deal with crises but give the responsibility to the regular team, making it harder to disentangle financially. Moreover, crisis management is beginning to blend into "issues" management, a term imported from the US, and is becoming more prevalent.

The consultancies on the list benefited from crisis management work by over [pounds]5m. Burson-Marsteller and GCI had good years -- Burson was called in to help with the Hoover fiasco, while GCI moved up from seventh to second position through work for SmithKline Beecham. The Rowland Company also saw revenues from crisis management rise by almost a quarter, while last year's leader, Countrywide, slipped a couple of notches.

According to Rowland joint managing director, Fiona Driscoll, crisis management is taking some interesting turns at Rowland. Just a few months ago it teamed up with large insurance company Willis Corroon, environmental engineers Acer, and a US group of lawyers specialising in environmental matters.

"The new company can now offer singularly or together integrated global packages," explains Driscoll. "We are saying that you need to think about how the crisis spreads out like ripples in a pond, affecting totally different parts of the business nationally and internationally."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, medical and food and drink specialists such as Vox Prism and Richmond Towers figure highly in the table, although Vox Prism slips down by seven places (though total turnover was up 6%, the contribution made by crisis work fell 60%). One of the major characteristics of crisis management is that, by its very nature, it is project-driven.

TOP 20 CRISIS MANAGEMENT PR CONSULTANCIES

Rank   Consultancy                     Turnover 1993         Crisis management
1      * Burson-Marsteller             [pounds]17,755,000    [pounds]1,243,000
2      * GCI Group                     [pounds]4,269,000     [pounds]427,000
3      * Countrywide Comms.            [pounds]14,028,000    [pounds]421,000
4      * Daniel J Edelman              [pounds]7,787,000     [pounds]389,000
5        Ogilvy Adams & Rinehart       [pounds]4,633,000     [pounds]324,000
6      * The Rowland Company           [pounds]7,525,000     [pounds]301,000
7      * Citigate Group                [pounds]5,860,000     [pounds]293,000
8      * Fleishman-Hillard UK          [pounds]1,405,000     [pounds]197,000
9        HPS Marketing Comms. … 
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