Taking a Lesson in Crisis Management From Scandal’s Olivia Pope

This past week, I sat down and watched one of my favorite TV shows, ABC’s Scandal.

The show is about a woman named Olivia Pope and focuses on her company and work in Crisis Management, particularly in the Washington, D.C. political crowd. Although she and her team use completely unethical methods for a real world PR professional, this past week she stated a lesson we can learn and apply to occasions when we are dealing with our clients crises.

So what was it that Pope said?

“The biggest problem in Crisis Management is the organization not knowing that it is in a crisis.” Bingo!

In PR, we learn about crises and what they entail. They are made up of three phases, the pre-crisis phase, the crisis response, and the post-crisis phase (Institute for PR). All phases play a major role in the success or failure of an organization during a crisis. But out of the three, I would say the pre-crisis phase is the most important.

With social media enabling companies to monitor what their consumers/audience are saying, it should be a main priority to have a team in place that goes on to these platforms and monitor what issues and complaints are being talked about. If there are minor problems, it can save not only financial cost later on, but also more importantly, help keep your companies reputation in good standing.


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If you don’t know what your companies minor problems are, they will eventually build into a larger scale crisis.

Crises are bound to occur, but being prepared for them and staying ahead of it is crucial. Have templates ready of statements, have a crisis management plan listing who does what, and make sure to have a team in place that knows how to handle the crisis, along with designated spokespeople who know how to confidently speak to the media.

As we see often in Scandal, being quick to respond and accurate can help people have confidence in how you are handling the crisis, and lets you control the story, instead of the story controlling you.


     Institute for PR. 30 Oct. 2007. Crisis Management and Communications. Retrieved from: https://instituteforpr.org/crisis-management-and-communications/

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