An Insight into Tackling Critical Situations from everywomanClub Member and Modern Muse Pippa Isbell

Pippa Isbell_October 2013cropped

everywomanClub member and Modern Muse Pippa Isbell is Chief Executive of PRCo Ltd, the integrated Public Relations and Digital consultancy, with offices in London, Paris, Milan, Munich, Dubai, Moscow and New York.  

Pippa joined PRCo in January 2011 from Orient-Express Hotels, where, as Vice President, Corporate Communications and a member of the Executive Committee, she was responsible for public and investor relations throughout the world and established and ran a network of 13 international agencies. She joined Orient-Express in 1998, having started, built and sold PIPR, her own highly successful travel and leisure specialist public relations consultancy.  

Founded in 1987, PIPR became the largest independent travel and leisure specialist, numbering among its clients the Thomas Cook Group, Avis Rent A Car and the Spanish Tourist Office.   Pippa has over 30 years’ experience of public relations in the travel and hospitality industry.  Hotel clients at PIPR included Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts, Forte, Hilton International, Jarvis Hotels and Millennium and Copthorne.  Exclusive to everywomanNetwork members, Pippa gives her top tips on how to handle a critical situation, what critical situation she has faced in the past and advice she would give to someone who is facing a critical situation.

What is the most important skill in handling a critical situation?  

It is important to be objective.  Try to remain calm and employ techniques such a deep breathing or a walk around the block to clear your head.  Then prepare, thoroughly and carefully.

What critical situations have you faced in the past?  

I have been involved in advising clients about how to deal with the media in critical situations. I have also been involved in crises in certain business situations – these situations have a lot riding on the outcome.

What did you learn overall?

I learned that bad things do happen but they are not always the end of the world.  Good can come from bad and damage can be limited.

What did you learn about yourself?  

I learned to focus very clearly on the salient points and the ends I need to achieve; to stay calm and be tenacious.

In your opinion, when you or your team have had a negative outcome from a critical situation, what made it so?

It may have been that we made mistakes in a certain situation; did not prepare well enough, relied on assumptions or left something undone.  Then we knew what to do to prevent it happening again.  Where it seemed external circumstances were against us, it was equally important to review the situation critically before accepting that it had been beyond our control.

Can you share an example of a critical situation that had an unforeseen, positive outcome?  

I once worked for an organisation whose parent company was involved in an accident where lives were lost.  The situation was totally unforeseen but it made us, the sister company, wake up, smell the coffee and make sure our own house was in order.

What advice would you give to someone who is facing a critical situation?  

Keep as calm as you can.  Prepare very carefully and review as new facts come to light. Play 'what if' war games to keep ahead of the opposition.  If it is over an extended period, make sure you have adequate rest and exercise to ensure you can keep alert.

What do you do to keep yourself focused and motivated during a critical situation?  

Prepare rigorously for the worst, while planning for the best!


Not a member yet?

Meet your goals and develop your skills on the everywomanNetwork. Join 1000s of other members today.


Not a member? If you would like to hear about our latest content, news and updates, sign up to our monthly update newsletter.