3 crisis comms lessons we can learn from President Nixon’s ‘moon disaster’ speech

As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, President Nixon’s ‘in the event of a moon disaster’ speech has been released, a powerful and poignant speech which would have been used if the worst had happened on the mission.

Although we hope never to have to deal with a crisis on this hypothetical scale, there is a lot we can learn from this.

1 – Plan ahead

This speech may have been one of a few that the communications team had prepared. Thinking ahead to what potential outcomes there could be and planning for all eventualities means that, should things go wrong, everyone that needs to be is prepared and you’ll have a plan that’s well thought through, rather than something done in the heat of the moment.

2 – Honesty and integrity

The speech explains the incident within the first paragraph, leaving people in no doubt, and additional details are given later. The speech shows sympathy but also pride in the men on the moon. Think about the potential incidents that you are planning for and the emotion that your spokesperson should and would be conveying.

3 – Lines of communication

President Nixon was to phone the widows directly, should a disaster have occurred. And, following that, there will have likely been a series of communications lines to ensure everyone was informed in the right order. In a crisis, think about your stakeholders and plan who should know what, in what order, and from whom.

You can read the speech here.

We have extensive experience in managing communications around reputational threats and crises. Find out more here.

Latest blogs

Members of Torbay’s planning committee have now given the green light to unlock £100m of private-sector investment in Torbay’s tourism industry which will create hundreds of new jobs and see visitors spend millions of pounds annually in the area.

26 November 2019

Bad news travels fast, but when bad news about your company hits, can you stop it?... Yes, you can. Read our advice on how to rectify the situation.

19 November 2019

Some donors to the RNLI cancelled their donations because 2% of funds are supporting causes in other countries. Here are five things we can learn from their handling of the situation.

20 September 2019

The threat of negative comment can make business owners nervous about social media but you can turn it around and demonstrate excellent customer service, turning a complaint into a compliment.

16 May 2019

© 2020 KOR Communications

The West Wing

Old Broadclyst Station


Devon EX5 3AS

De Beauvoir Block

92-96 De Beauvoir Road

London N1 4EN

Accept Cookies

This website uses cookies to help us know a little bit about you, how you use our website and improve the browsing experience. Manage cookies.