Sneak Peek: What Can You Say in a Crisis?


A sneak peek of the upcoming article, “What Can You Say in a Crisis.” Sign up for your complimentary subscription to receive the Fall issue and read the full article!

Recent incidents suggest how best to respond when things go wrong.

The incident itself was bad enough. The customer who fell is in tough shape, his family is already talking to an attorney, your staff is freaked out, and the media—hoping to latch onto a trend or find something that hasn’t already been reported elsewhere— hasn’t given you a moment’s peace.

So, what are you supposed to do now?

There’s no gentle way to put this: despite our best efforts, failure in the adventure park environment happens, and it can be fatal. The media coverage afterward can have a significant impact on your operations. How can you minimize that impact? Let’s look at some recent serious incidents involving aerial adventure operations to see how the operators managed the stories.


In preparing this assessment, we did not speak with any of the operators. Our comments are based solely on news items obtained online, informed by extensive experience in communications and journalism, and reflective of exactly the information presented to the public by news media.

Key to our assessment is looking at how personnel at the impacted operations interacted with the media, the types of information they provided, the way they provided it, and how they were quoted. There’s an art to ensuring that news items include the points and statements you want them to include, and that art comes with training and practice. You don’t just wing it in other aspects of your business, and shouldn’t do that in dealing publicly with serious incidents, either.


About Author

Skip King has been managing crises and high-visibility incidents for more than 25 years. He serves as crisis communications counsel to the Outward Bound organization, and has provided crisis and issues management support in a variety of other industry sectors. He authored the National Ski Areas Association’s Crisis Management Guidelines, and has provided crisis communications training, planning and support to many winter resorts. His company, Reputation Strategies LLC, is based in Yarmouth, Maine. Info:

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