Recently, a friend asked what I would tell someone dealing with a public relations crisis. My initial response was that people need to be aware that how they respond in the event of a PR crisis can either make or break your company.
Most businesses have a crisis communications plan in place so that they are prepared to react quickly and efficiently, utilizing social media as well as other news platforms. And if you don’t, get on it because waiting until an event happens and then trying to put a plan together can be disastrous.
One of the first things you should do, after communicating with your team, is acknowledge the problem and address it. The worst thing you can do is run and hide, ultimately issuing a terse “No comment” response when you’re ultimately tracked down by a media member. It’s important to be as forthright as possible and if the situation deems it necessary, apologize. Saying you’re sorry can go a long way.
It’s also crucial that when speaking to the media that you don’t come across as robotic and unfeeling. If the situation calls for it, tell them you’re deeply saddened by what has transpired and that every effort is being made to correct the situation so that it never happens again. Let them and their constituents know that they will be kept updated on the situation and that you understand that what has transpired may have upset them and that you understand how they must be feeling.
In this day of social media where things can go viral in seconds, you also have to monitor social media platforms and be prepared to react. Whether your company is active on social media or not, remember that if a crisis occurs, many people will go directly to social media to make their feelings known. Have a plan in place so that someone is overseeing all social media posts and that that person communicates the same message that has been provided to the media.
Communication is crucial in a PR crisis situation. In order to maneuver your way through a public relations crisis, you must communicate with your team, with your stakeholders, and with the media. Again, don’t wait for a calamity to happen to put a plan together because that will inevitably lead to mistakes – errors that could cost you dearly.
If you need experts to help you a develop a comprehensive public relations strategy, give us a call at The High Road Agency.