From Crisis to Opportunity: The 5C's of Crisis Communications (2024)

Last September 2017, I was invited to give a presentation for hundreds of PR practitioners all over the Philippines, about one of the most complicated, most challenging topics in the book – Crisis Communications. The Public Relations Society of the Philippines recognized that the company I work in- Manila Electric Company (the biggest electricity distribution utility in the country) is fairly familiar with the topic. After all, as a public utility, reputational issues are inherent in our business, managing them before they turn into a crisis is simply fundamental.


My presentation opened with me discussing the basic principles that guide me and the Meralco Public Information Office. I call these the 5Cs of Crisis Communications: Care, Commitment, Competency, Community, and Continuity.

CARE – Our customers are our utmost priority, our reason for being. We may be a monopoly because of the nature of the wires business, but that does not stop us from being concerned about the well-being of our customers and our stakeholders. Customer service is at the top of our corporate values. We show to them our…

COMMITMENT – In times of crises, we view communications as an absolute necessity. Meralco remains a primary and consistent source of relevant, factual, updated information for all our stakeholders, utilizing media across all platforms as conduit. Thus…

COMPETENCY – is important. Customers and stakeholders demand value for services they pay for on a monthly basis, and it’s important they know that the company knows what it is doing, and that is solving the problem or crisis the quickest way possible. A competent, credible representative speaking to them via media is crucial.

COMMUNITY – With or without a crisis, Meralco keeps a close watch on building its community of allies and partners via relationship-building. This is true then when TV, radio, print dominated media, and this remains true now that there are a million channels where new communities sprout.

CONTINUITY – Meralco, for its part, adjusts the monthly electricity rates based on the prices of its suppliers, the generation companies. Whether it’s an increase or decrease, we continuously update our customers to help prepare them for the bills, and empower them with information for consumption management. Every month, there is a continued process of anticipating crisis, planning and facing new ones. It’s the same principle for other brands and companies. We’re just at it more often – we never stop monitoring, planning, anticipating for the next crisis.


The case study I shared was about the power supply shortfall threat that Meralco faced in the summer of 2015. The Department of Energy (DOE) warned the public that the whole Luzon region will experience 7-week brownouts in the summer months, due to a power supply shortfall. Add an increase in electricity rates to that situation and it was undoubtedly, a crisis situation.

This was an opportune time to put the 5Cs in motion.

First, we showed we CARE.

We put a communications plan in motion, anchored on empowering our customers and all stakeholders with information on how each of us can help in easing the supply shortage.

We empowered our COMMUNITIES with solutions.

Meralco customized approaches for different communities- for business customers, a demand-side management program was identified and propagated. For residential customers, an energy efficiency campaign via mass media and social media was put in place, for our homeowners to learn and implement in their own residences.

We brought forward our COMMITMENT to solve the crisis.

The crisis called for an integrated effort across all involved sectors, and that was showcased via consistent, unified communications, in partnership with the Philippine government, and business and media groups. The Meralco communications team also did not waste any opportunity to propagate the measures being undertaken – from press interviews to creative content development, months before summer even starts.

We built on our individual and group COMPETENCIES and lived up to our mission to be an enabler.

As the biggest electricity distribution utility, Meralco is also the go-to resource for consumption management information. The summer supply threat was the proper context to build on this, which Meralco utilized via creating programs that put forward demand-side management and energy efficiency.

Lastly, Meralco recognized that Crisis Communications is a continuing process.

Meralco started the summer crisis communication campaign several months before the summer season began, and continued the months after, up until the supply became stable.

Energy efficiency is also still widely communicated today, as we rally on with empowering solutions.

The communication efforts for the summer crisis campaign was well-received in the local industry, winning a Gold Anvil at the PRSP Anvil Awards and a Merit award at the IABC Quill Awards.

On the international front, the campaign won in the prestigious PR Week Awards Asia 2016 in Hong Kong, as the first and only Philippine Gold Winner in Issues Management & Crisis Communications category.

The summer crisis campaign also bested other cases from Asia Pacific at The Gold Standard Awards for Issues Management & Crisis Communications.

This was also a key contributor to the Meralco Public Information Office win as the first-ever PRSP Anvil Awards PR Team of the Year – a feat I so often say as the greatest achievement in my almost 30 years in the industry. Thank you again PRSP, for this recognition.

Let me conclude by itemizing the 5Cs once again… in times of crises, show you CARE. COMMIT to resolve the task at hand. Build on your COMPETENCIES and showcase them. Strengthen and grow your COMMUNITIES. And CONTINUE learning from each crisis encountered.

From Crisis to Opportunity: The 5C's of Crisis Communications (2024)


From Crisis to Opportunity: The 5C's of Crisis Communications? ›

I call these the 5Cs of Crisis Communications: Care, Commitment, Competency, Community, and Continuity.

What are the 5 C's of crisis communication? ›

Here, we are going to discuss what we believe are the 5 Cs of crisis communications: Concern, Commitment, Competency, Clarity, and Confidence. Each one of these is important to keep in mind as you build your crisis response plan and any appropriate response you may have when a crisis arises.

What are the five phases of crisis communication? ›

Keeping this in mind, here are the five stages of managing a crisis and how to approach your crisis communication strategy:
  • Stage 1: Recognizing the Crisis. ...
  • Stage 2: Initial Response. ...
  • Stage 3: Managing the Situation. ...
  • Stage 4: Creating Flexibility in Pre-recovery. ...
  • Stage 5: Time to Recover.
Mar 22, 2023

What are the 5 C's of communication in healthcare? ›

Recently, the 5Cs of Consultation model (Contact, Communicate, Core Question, Collaborate, and Close the Loop) has been studied in Emergency Medicine residents using simulated consultation scenarios.

What are the 5 phases of crisis that require specific crisis leadership competencies? ›

Executives who enable their organizations to recover from a crisis exhibit a complex set of competencies in each of the five phases of a crisis—signal detection, preparation and prevention, damage control and containment, business recovery, and reflection and learning.

What are the keys to successful crisis communication? ›

Effective crisis communication requires a delicate balance of three things: reassurance, hope, and courage. Providing reassurance and hope are the pieces that have always been there. They're challenging in and of themselves, but they're not new.

What are the three C's of crisis communication? ›

Train these spokespeople to remember you are never “off the record.” Ingrain in them these three C's of crisis communications: Be Clear. Concisely communicate the information and the plan as they are established. Be Credible.

What is the core element of crisis communication? ›

Key Messages

A crisis communication plan aims to communicate the organization's messages and ensure their delivery effectively. Key messages are pre-crafted statements that address questions from stakeholders, journalists, and other interested parties.

Who developed the 5 stage major crisis model? ›

Mitroff's Five-Stage Crisis Management Model and Portfolio Model. In 1994, Mitroff described five crisis stages, which also follow a similar lifecycle progression: Crisis signal detection. Probing and prevention (probing refers to looking for risk factors)

What is crisis management stages? ›

With a deeper understanding of the four stages of a crisis—pre-crisis, crisis, response, and recovery— you'll be able to identify which stage of a crisis you are in at any moment.

What are the steps of crisis management? ›

The following steps can help you limit potential damage in a crisis:
  1. Anticipate. The first step is to prepare. ...
  2. Create a plan and test it. ...
  3. Identify your crisis communication team. ...
  4. Establish notification and monitoring systems. ...
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. ...
  6. The death of the super injunction. ...
  7. Post-crisis analysis.
Jul 3, 2017

How many stages of crisis are there? ›

A crisis has up to four distinct phases. The goal of crisis planning is to move as quickly from the pre-crisis stage to the post-crisis stage. The ideal is to eliminate Stage 2 and 3 entirely, but that is often beyond your control.

What are the 5 C's of communication and explanation? ›

For effective communication, remember the 5 C's of communication: clear, cohesive, complete, concise, and concrete. Be Clear about your message, be Cohesive by staying on-topic, Complete your idea with supporting content, be Concise by eliminating unnecessary words, be Concrete by using precise words.

What are the 4 R's of crisis communication? ›

The "4Rs" - robustness, resourcefulness, rapid recovery, and redundancy - provide a practical roadmap for crisis communication.

What are the 4 P's of crisis management? ›

Those Ps include people (keep every employee informed and lines of communication open), positive cash flow (a critical focus to manage debt), practices (managing with transparency and operating strategically), and positioning (find opportunities to position yourself for growth).

What are the four rules of crisis communication? ›

The key principles of effective crisis communications are:

Be right…be accurate and truthful in communicating what you know about the situation. Be credible…don't obfuscate, mislead, or engage in denial. Express empathy… say you genuinely feel for the affected.

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