Would you know how to deal with a PR crisis if it hit your business?
In a heavily filled media world, a PR crisis can hit at any time and sometimes unexpectedly. If a crisis hits, you and your team need to be well-prepared to respond and avoid as much damage to your brand as possible.
Follow our advice below on how to use PR effectively in a crisis.
First things first, take a few deep breaths. This will enable you to feel calmer about the situation. If you are feeling calm, you will be better prepared to take control of the situation and keep everyone else on the team calm.
Get in touch with the relevant people such as your PR team, social media team and even customer service to brief them on what has happened and the steps you will be taking to react to the issue. Ask staff to monitor their own social media platforms to keep an eye on what is being said.
When time is of the essence, you can’t afford to waste it. Trying to find mobile numbers, unable to post to Twitter because the social media manager is on holiday, and no one knows the credentials can all be avoided by having a simple plan in place.
Next, you need to get the full story of what has happened. It is important to know the entire story from an internal perspective, and how your customers perceive the incident externally. Do not react to a PR crisis if you don’t know exactly what happened and why it happened as it could make matters worse.
The important thing you need to know is whether the crisis is having a current impact on the business and whether it could have a future impact on the business? Before responding, it is important to know how your decisions and responses will impact the business as well as your brand reputation. This is a very important step as you begin to decide on how to address your response to your clients/customers.
Remembering the importance of honesty and transparency is especially important during times of crisis or negative publicity. Honesty and accuracy can help a business to regain trust, which is always necessary for weathering a crisis or problem. If you have made a mistake, a genuine, heartfelt apology goes a long way and can stop situations from escalating. Holding your hands up and admitting that you got things wrong and want to make things right shows that you are brand/business/person with values and integrity.
If you give a crisis the opportunity to develop, then it probably will. Communicating quickly, puts you in control and you can rectify the situation sooner rather than later. You should ensure that you have the right advice and ensure that your team and customers are confident that you’re handling the situation.
Ideally any communication should go out within 24 hours. The reason you need to communicate quickly is because in a social media driven world, once a story has started, it’s very hard to get it back under control, and it’s even harder to set the agenda for the story.
This is where PR and social media skills come into play. It is vital for you to understand the reaction of the media and your community as this will help you to identity how big the crisis is. Are lots of people talking about the incident, or just a handful? What is the overall view? Are people supporting you? How is the media reacting?
What happens next will depend on the reaction within the media. Remember, it may take a few days for the comments to die down, so continue to keep an eye on it. Sometimes you need to be patient and give it time, other times you may need to step in and offer additional statements or interviews.
No matter how things go, you will learn something valuable. Everything you have learnt from this incident will help you and your company understand how to avoid future encounters. It is important to remember to try and have a PR crisis communication plan and team in place before you need them.
It is important to remember… be ready, respond and reflect.
If you find yourself in a PR crisis or would like help preparing a strategy before a crisis hits your business, our team are here to help. Call us on 01536 682800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.