Government Affair’s Role in Crisis Management -- PAA 2016 GA Forum

DaoHe President Jane Zhang chaired the session on Crisis and Issue Management for Government Relations (GR) Professionals at the 2016 China Government Affairs Forum organized by PublicAffairsAsia. This is the fourth year that Jane led the discussion on crisis management for multinationals in China at this annual Government Affairs Forum.

Building on previous years’ discussions on knowledge sharing during a crisis, management procedures and skills, as well as the unique crisis environment faced by multinational companies in China, Zhang focused this year’s discussion on the role of GR professionals in crisis management. Referring to a panelist’s comparison of crisis management inside and outside of China, Jane emphasized that “in China, if a corporate crisis does not involve government stakeholders either in the happening or resolving of the issue, then it’s not a real crisis”.

GR professionals play two crucial roles in issue and crisis management in China. “One is to define the nature and root cause of the issue and understand why this issue or crisis is hitting the company at this time,” Zhang explained. GR professionals’ understanding of China’s macro policy context and industry changes are essential to helping local crisis management teams as well as global executives reach sound conclusions on these matters.

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“The second is communication with government stakeholders, which must be at the core of any crisis management and communication strategy and the most important step in developing a solution to the situation.”

Zhang emphasized that in order to play these two roles effectively, it is essential that GR professionals have a clear grasp of the entire crisis management process, which includes crisis prevention, crisis preparedness, crisis response, as well as reputation recovery, and a thorough understanding of what they must prepare and execute in order to best contribute to each of these critical stages.

“Government relations is a vital component of crisis prevention and real-time crisis management in China,” Zhang concluded, urging multinational companies operating in China to not neglect incorporating GR perspectives and actions into their crisis management mechanisms for effective crisis resolution.