15 April 2024
Amanda Coleman Crisis Communications Book Review

Crisis Communications Strategies by Amanda Coleman – A review

“Crisis Communications Strategies, How to Prepare in Advance, Respond Effectively and Recover in Full”, is a thought provoking, insightful and excellent book written about crisis communications by Amanda Coleman*. I would go as far as to say that if you work in comms and have not read this book then you are missing out.

Amanda has been there and done that when it comes to high level and high impact communications. She was in charge of communications at Greater Manchester Police during the 2017 terror attack and also the 2011 riots in Manchester. She is also on various government communications task forces and is a fellow of both the CIPR and the PRCA.

I met Amanda Coleman, very briefly, at PRFest a few years ago, after the Manchester terror attack had taken place. Amanda delivered a remarkable talk that triggered the only ever standing ovation I have seen after a talk at a public relations event. With this in mind, I knew the book was going to be good, but it really blew me away.

The book really is a template of how to prepare and then deploy a crisis communications campaign. From getting ready for a crisis through to spotting it emerging and the subsequent response and the analysis needed afterwards, the book has it all.

I feel like I have a strong grasp of how to handle a crisis having done so far some of the largest companies in the world but there were parts in this book that really made me sit up and take notice. It has been a long time since a public relations related book has made me scribble notes on the pages and highlight sections that I want to think about in more depth, but this book did that.

One of the themes that impressed me throughout the book is Amanda’s focus on “people”. People are far too often overlooked in crisis communications in terms of the impact upon a work force caught up in a crisis, the people on the front line of dealing with a crisis and the wider communities impacted. Amanda really takes the time to make sure the focus is in the right place, and that is the people involved.

As you would expect from a world renowned communicator, the writing style is spot on. Punchy and to the point without being flippant nor disrespectful. I also love that the book is scattered with real life examples and references to case studies that want you to go off and read more.

The reason why I say that this book needs to be on the shelf of everyone working in a senior communications role is that it addresses areas that often get overlooked in many crisis communications plans. Things such like addressing resource issues should a crisis be prolonged, and the importance of having the confidence of the C-Suite (and ideas on how to win that confidence).

Some areas of the book serve as a much needed crisis communications 101 refresher such as the need to remember the value of what many class as traditional media like local radio and local community groups, and the vital role that they play.

In my own experience of helping organisations I often see them falling foul of setting up their own communication and news platforms in order to try and “control the narrative” and remove the need to even engage with traditional local media because they want to avoid the scrutiny this may bring. However, when a crisis hits and a large organisation, for example a local authority, needs to communicate a crisis message urgently, they actually need the local media to spread the word in as fast a time as possible, but those contacts have become lacking because the relationships have been ignored.

The fact I have digressed from the book review shows how thought provoking the text is.

This book has everything a communications professional could need. From templates and suggested frameworks through to examples and practical theories. I 100% suggest you buy this book.

Currently available from Amazon for £18.67*. Crisis Communications Strategies, How to Prepare in Advance, Respond Effectively and Recover in Full, was first published in 2020.

*This is an affiliate link.

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