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Steven R. Van Hook
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Crisis Management Moments
Making the most of a bad situation.
 More of this Feature
Part 1: Crisis Moments
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This from California:

It was in Los Angeles during a long drought, when a huge water pipe burst right in the middle of one of the busiest streets, the Ventura Boulevard, causing the road to split apart. Water flooded the street and sidewalks, closing all the businesses. The area was blocked off, so no customers could get to any of the businesses. But the news media were everywhere. 

One of the businesses in the flood area was a hamburger restaurant called Mels Diner. Since he didnt have any customers, Mel started giving away free hamburgers to the workers repairing the water pipe. The TV news crews took video of this, and that evening thousands of viewers saw a happy report on what a fine citizen Mels Diner is. For the cost of a few hamburgers, Mel got the kind of media coverage you just cant buy, because he did the right thing at the right time.

Hypothetical from Russia:

Lets say you are a developer who bought a large apartment building in the middle of Moscow, occupied primarily by elderly people, and you plan to turn it into a luxury hotel. You are going to evict the tenants so you can do this. The media love this kind of story, and they will likely portray you as a villain. 

Reporters will ask you why you are throwing the old people out on the street. You might respond, Im glad you asked me if were throwing old people out. It gives me a chance to explain just what we are doing. Not only does each resident have six months rent-free to find new housing, but well give them a six-month extension if they need it. In addition, were helping the residents find new housing, and well pay their moving costs. If someone is willing to do more than this, Id like to meet him.

Remember the old rule: the best defense is a good offense. And always look for a new opportunity in the middle of a crisis.

- Steven R. Van Hook

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