Some time ago, I posted a series on the lessons that leaders can learn from celebrities – and in this post about Britney Spears I explained my STOP approach to crisis management:

  • Story – I believe that a crisis is best handled head on. In a crisis, it is imperative that the leader OWNS the story – gather your facts, position the crisis in the context of your “big picture” strategy, and put forward your story. Remember, the crisis is about you and you will be judged by how you deal with both its resolution and its telling.
  • Timeliness – In a crisis, timeliness is critical. Take a few moments to map out a couple of key milestones that will need to be passed before your crisis is resolved. If you don’t feel capable of discussing details, explain that details will be forthcoming, but in a timeframe of YOUR choosing. Then, make sure you deliver on each of your milestones. Remember, to over communicate. Own the story. Own up to your responsibilities.
  • Objectivity – If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t speculate. Speak only to the facts. Be serious.
  • Professionals – Sometimes a crisis needs the help of a professional. Reach out to those you trust. Look at your story, think about the timelines and figure out if you have the capacity to be objective. Wherever there is a gap, consider hiring-in experienced help.
Hang in There Britney

Interestingly, Britney Spears has recently embarked on a social media strategy, with a blog and a Twitter account (while I am interested in Twitter, I simply don’t have the capacity to commit to it). However, Roo Reynolds pointed out that in doing so, Britney has unwittingly stumbled into a crisis – for rather writing her own blog and Twitter messages, Britney had a team appearing as “theRealBritney”. As I read through the situation, I was reminded of the STOP approach – because I could see it here in action.

Since my previous post, Britney has clearly sorted out her story. “Her” timeliness has improved and by blogging and twittering, she is more in “control” of the story – it is more personal (and objective in the sense that it is not mediated or manipulated by the media that surrounds her every move). Britney has also hired in some professionals – who have now announced their involvement as part of “theRealBritney” team.

Will this change the way that Britney is perceived in the media? Will this produce a different kind of communication outcome? All indications are, so far, positive.

Nina Nets It Out: The STOP approach to managing a crisis is a simple, but effective way to focus on your communications during a crisis. Observing Britney Spears’ recent online efforts, one can see the STOP approach in action.