005 – Jason Maloni – Communicating in a Crisis

Crisis Communications Specialist

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Jason Maloni is a crisis communication expert.

Environmental disaster. Transportation accident. Celebrity mishap. Corporate take over.

Have you ever wondered about the type of thinking behind the response of a company, celebrity or nation when they find themselves in rough waters?Jason Maloni - Crisis Communication

Chances are Jason Maloni and his team from Levick are in the war room working it out.

Crisis communication is a specialised art and our guest on this episode of the Team Guru Podcast has been playing this pressure packed game for 25 years.

As well as some tantalising inside stories about major disasters you’ve heard of, Jason gives us some top tips about taking charge and communicating in tough times.

Lessons Learned

Here’s what I took from the conversation:

Understanding Crisis Communication

  • A crisis management company brings structure to a difficult situation
  • No one cares what got you into trouble – they care what you do from the moment you knew trouble existed
  • In tough times leaders need to lead. Take the time to gather information – but once you have the facts, make a decision
  • Key component of any crisis management situation is to accept responsibility for what happened – standing up and accepting responsibility is always the first step towards redemption
  • ‘No comment’ makes you look guilty. It’s far better to be part of the story, with something positive to say.
  • Direct and transparent engagement and make sure the facts are in the public discourse

Guiding principles that are always true for any rabidly unfolding situation:

  1. If you don’t define and issue it’s going to be defined for you – you are not at the mercy of the media, you shape the media. That’s how you get ahead of the story
  2. Focus your messages to the undecided – not the 10% that hate you or the 10% that love you – their mind is already made up. The undecided is the audience we need to devote the most attention to


  • First question to ask yourself – How do we make this situation better and who do we care about?
  • Your steps to redemption need to be, and be seen to be, real and authentic
  • Swift action and leadership – that’s what people are looking for. No one cares what got you into the situation – they care about what you do once you find out something bad is happening
  • Initially you need to work out a way to speak to all our stakeholders in order to preserve our brand and trust
  • Create a holding statement to buy some time to gather facts
  • Work hard to understand who are the people that matter most in your situation – your employees, shareholders, customers etc.
  • Avoid the temptation to think that the watchers of news are the recipients of your messages. Work out who is in your community. If you try to communicate with everyone, you’ll end up communicating to no one
  • Engage the community where they are – go to them
  • You can send out a statement or deliver your message on tv – but it’s more powerful if those affected most hear you deliver your message in person
  • Get the facts into the public discourse
  • Lead the conversation
  • It’s important to have a variety of voices around the table – reach into your organisation to get a range of perspectives


  • Leaders need to stay calm by taking the time to make a plan and gather the facts
  • Being able to influence others starts with listening – to get information from all sides and to get into the heart of the matter
  • Develop young team members by getting them into the room when the real work of your organisation is being done – exposure, osmosis

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