When in Rome: Handling a Crisis


After speaking at the Arctic15 conference in Helsinki, my mom and I went to Paris, Rome, and Stockholm on "vacation." (I say that lightly because I'm a workaholic.) When we were at the train station on our way to leave for Sweden, the unthinkable happened: My mom's purse was stolen. Passport, laptop, wallet, phone. All gone.

A nightmare scenario for anyone with the slightest case of wanderlust, but our misfortunes inspired me. If you're someone who puts your brand out there, the potential for crises is inevitable. Luckily for you, I've experience a heck load of them. Here are my tips.

1. Evaluate the damage.

Before doing anything else, my mom and I first figured out what was missing. (Spoiler: Everything important.) The same thing happens when you've experienced something terrible online. If you tweeted something racist or sent a sexy Snapchat to your father-in-law, determine how many people were affected by your lapse of judgment.

2. Get help.

And from someone who knows their shit. In our case, the Canadian embassy in Rome. The theft left us flustered and we needed perspective from someone who wasn't emotionally involved. You should do the same thing. Call a trusted friend, call her Olivia Pope, and ask for an honest opinion of your mistake's devastations. You may be overreacting.

3. Be honest.

Retrospectively, my mom's passport should have been padlocked to her ankle. But it's okay. People make mistakes. It's part of being human. We were upfront with the embassy and our sincerity made the paperwork process seamless. If you've made an error that's publicly affected people, don't dust it under the rug. Show your compassionate side, admit an error, and apologize if necessary.

4. Never travel to Rome.

Kidding, obviously. It's a great city full of history and carbs. Just hold on to your bag for dear life.

Have you ever made a public mistake online? Tell me about it below.