For the past two months the world has been captured by the story of the Chilean miners trapped nearly half a mile underground. While their survival is surely a testimony of incredible human surivival, Chile's president has used the event as a public relations opportunity to show the world how incredible the Chilean government and their rescue team is. This is an excellent example of crisis management, instead of focusing on the failure of the mine, the world has been captivated by the struggle of the miners and their government to bring them back to earth, to rescue them from the pits.
One example of the how the Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has been able to use this event to push a positive message about Chile is this quote below from Fox 13 News:
"These miners have shown, as have the victims of the earthquake and the people that are working to rebuild after the earthquake have shown that Chileans unite in adversity and we are capable of great things and that, the souls of our country shows the best of itself when we're seeing adversity," said Pinera.
While this event could easily be articulated as an example of human bravery and the ability of human beings to overcome great adversity, the President articulates the miners as nationals and strengthens the image of his nation through their actions. In addition to sending an international message of hope and Chilean perserverence, this event has sparked nationalist uprisings throughout Chile with people celebrating the rescue of the miners and reconnecting to their Chilean national identity.
When in crisis, it's best to think about how you can turn a crisis into a reputation management opportunity. Even though their are several horrific stories like this every year, stories where people are trapped and there seems to be no hope, when the situation turns around, smart leaders will know how to recognize the opportunity to insprire others with not just any message of hope -- but their message of hope.