Crisis communication

What exactly constitutes a crisis? When is the right time to react? And above all: What should you do? Companies as well as PR agencies must face the challenge of finding answers to these questions. Crisis communication is far more difficult than you might think. In some cases, the crisis only becomes obvious when it is almost too late for remedial action. But how and where does a crisis emerge? ad publica can help you stay one step ahead.

Heiko Biesterfeldt, Managing Partner of ad publica, has focused on the subject of crisis communication ever since the early days of his career. He graduated in psychology and sociology before deciding to focus on publicity in his professional life: ‘I have been working in the PR industry for around 20 years now, and one thing I have learned is that practice often comes out ahead of theory. Successful PR takes experience. At ad publica, we use our many years of experience with crisis communication to offer our clients a comprehensive and customized consultation service.’


Communication is central in public relations. As many different approaches as there are, effective PR must always do one thing: successfully convey messages. Pointless communication never proves sustainable. One of the most important services ad publica offers as a PR agency is discrete crisis prevention. No genuine crisis simply emerges from nothing. Companies should be aware of problems in their own organisation and should handle them with confidence. ad publica offers targeted issues management and intelligible monitoring of the various channels.


Often, a communications crisis is the result of an estrangement from the customer. A company’s working methods may have become outdated, or internal personnel structures are seen as unacceptable by the target customer group. If that happens, the company image suffers. A lack of communication, or flawed communication, can turn from an early indicator of crisis to a cause of further deterioration. ad publica offers crisis management based on a search for sensible solutions that focus on mediation. Makeshift solutions or mere cosmetic measures that fail to properly address the problem frequently acerbate conflicts. Even in a crisis situation, such as a shitstorm, public relations should take the ongoing evolution of a company into account. It should address both conventional and more open and innovative segments of the target audience.


ad publica’s clients come from sectors as diverse as food, e-commerce, tourism, finance and IT. We have chosen not to specialize on specific sectors, allowing us to offer a comprehensive approach, taking economic trends and their consequences into account. Companies must continuously broaden their horizons to keep the pace in today’s increasingly networked world. ad publica consultants see themselves as generalists. ad publica not only covers all the classic PR methodologies, but also the field of online public relations. Online campaigns, blogs and the increasingly important social networks require detailed attention. The arguably most prominent examples of this sector are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Online PR without the use of such networks is now almost unthinkable.


ad publica covers a wealth of tasks and services to support clients and partners in a crisis and equip them to meet all challenges. This includes:


  • Choice of relevant social media channels
  • Community management
  • Consumer communications
  • Issues management
  • Social media strategy
  • Design, activation and supervision during the lifecycle of social media ads
  • Crisis management
  • Crisis communication
  • Layout, design and technical realization (web development)
  • Press conferences and events
  • Reputation management (online and offline)
  • Training and workshops for social media beginners and advanced users
  • Social media guidelines
  • Social media monitoring
  • Scenario planning
  • Preparing and coordinating printed and online statements
  • Preparing blog articles, press releases and status updates (online PR)
  • Workshops: Staff training for conduct before/during/after the crisis


If a crisis can no longer be averted, many companies believe they can just wait it out. According to Heiko Biesterfeldt: ‘The worst you can do is nothing at all.’ It is important to address challenges early, and that is only possible if communications expertise and channel expertise are properly combined. An agency with extensive experience in communication channels but unable to actually convey messages is no great help. Just as the greatest possible communications expertise is useless without knowledge of suitable communication channels.


Jan-Philip Thie, the agency’s Chief Digital Officer for public relations in digital media, enjoys the challenges of his profession. In the course of his career, he has come to some important realizations on the subject of crisis communication: ‘Many believe that communication is changing. Obviously, that is too simplified a view. What does change are the tools used to communicate. The social web offers a far higher degree of networking than was the case 20 years ago. Information specifically designed for the internet can be targeted to an audience much more efficiently. The challenge is to communicate with various and very different people and groups on the same level.’

Your contact person

Heiko Biesterfeldt


+49 40 31766300

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