Among the earliest of recorded episodes of panic management was an instance dating back to the late sixties. With his regular cries of ‘don’t panic’, Lance-Corporal Jack Jones of the Walmington-On-Sea platoon of the Home Guard believed he was serving as a calming influence in a time of crisis. The effect, of course, was nothing of the kind. But whoever said sitcoms had to be accurate?
Panic management is now part and parcel of everyday business life. When Andersen’s business and reputation began to fall apart in late 2001, it turned to a sharp-suited City PR firm to limit the damage. Sad to say, it didn’t work.
But the need to send out the right message in difficult times has been a boon for many. Some management consultancies have built a business out of helping companies survive a necessary phase of panic management. More recently a whole industry – risk management – has made a living out of a crisis.
Everything from the heightened risk of terrorist attacks to Saturday’s May Day protests have forced individuals, companies and governments into panic management mode. And why? As Lance-Corporal Jones was fond of telling his colleagues: ‘They don’t like it up ’em.’
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