Newsworthy Crises Continued Their Upward Trend Last Year; Is Your Company or Organization Prepared to Handle One?


The Institute for Crisis Management (ICM) recently released its annual report for 2014 and if you think crises facing businesses and other organizations are on the decline you better think again.

The annual report, a compilation of news, trends and the identification of industries most prone to a crisis, identified more than 223,000 crisis news stories in nearly 10,000 media outlets last year.

The top 10 most crisis-prone industries last year were:
• Transportation
• Automobile manufacturing
• Banking/financial services
• Food
• Pharmaceuticals
• Education
• Energy
• Retail
• Defense/aerospace
• Health care

“Mismanagement” continued to lead the way as the top crisis category in 2014 at more than 33 percent, with white-collar crime a distant second at just under 14 percent. Also high on the list were casualty accidents and environmental damage.

Here are some other interesting takeaways from the report:

• Data breaches increased by more than 30 percent compared to 2013 and no size or type of institution was immune from an attack, from banks and financial institutions, to not-for-profit organizations and colleges/universities. Some of the largest retailers in the U.S., including Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Michael’s and Walgreens, and millions of their customers, were negatively impacted. The health care industry was also hard hit, accounting for 42 percent of all data breaches reported in 2014. Community Health Systems in Tennessee experienced the largest health care data breach with more than 4.5 million customer records accessed.

• About three out of every four crises (74.22 percent) were the sudden type – such as natural disasters or workplace violence – with approximately one of four (25.78 percent) considered “smoldering,” a situation that starts out small, thus providing an organization with an opportunity to fix it before it gets out of control and becomes public.

• Social media’s influence on business crisis communications continued to expand, with the news of many issues breaking first on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.

The 2014 report is another reminder bad things can and do happen to good companies. Sooner or later most businesses – even the most successful and well-run organizations – will encounter some type of a crisis. Some may be severe, widespread and a threat to the organization’s very existence. Others may be contained within a community or region, putting the company’s local reputation and relationships at risk.

The PR team at Martin Davison Public Relations has extensive experience in crisis communications and issues management, having provided our clients with confidential planning and counsel associated with a variety of situations, including employee and patient fatalities, management issues, layoffs and corporate downsizings, mergers and acquisitions, and labor disputes.

With a written crisis plan in place, an effective spokesperson, and a do-the-right-thing philosophy, virtually any situation can be dealt with and the damage minimized.

If your organization is in need of assistance with its crisis communications planning, please contact me at or 716.242.7476.