An 8-step lowdown on effectively managing a public relations crisis
Businesses are all about risks and where there are risks, chances of crises are inevitable. Thus, every business at some point or the other faces a PR crisis and the way you deal with such crisis can either make you or break you. In other words, failing to respond appropriately could permanently damage your firm’s reputation, there could be large loss of money, dropping sales, losing people’s trust, not being able to pay your company bills and also losing your business, clients and partners. In today’s evolving world where news travels with just one swipe on your phone, organizations need be ready to be able to deal with PR crisis when they strike both quickly and efficiently, using the available media platforms.
So if you don’t want PR crisis to be the worst nightmare, here are some ways to manage a communications and public relations crisis:
1) Get the narrative right: apologize and be authentic
Before taking any action it is important that firm puts the real narrative out there and apologizes if the situation demands so. Take this for instance, AirAsia’s Indonesia Flight QZ8501 was a tragic air disaster which resulted in the loss of 162 lives in 2014. CEO of the airlines, Tony Fernandez moved quickly and immediately took responsibility and apologized for what happened. Fernandes didn’t shy away from the negative spotlight; instead he stepped up bravely onto the stage and focused on showing compassion to the families of the victims. He stayed on as the caring face of the brand and built back the public’s confidence in the brand.
2) Hire a PR crisis management expert
When a company faces PR crisis, the employees of the firm get so involved in the negativity they don’t know how to act in response to the actual matter at hand. Thus, when a firm comes across such a situation the first step to take, after apologizing, is to hire a PR crisis management expert.PR crisis management experts help analyze and strategize the situation more objectively, leading to a more stable and informed communication stance.They are experts who have dealt with multiple crises of different magnitude and understand the delicate nature of such situations. Crisis managers publish about the company’s good work and create good publicity that helps in wiping down all the pessimism that was originally created due to the negative impact of the crisis.
3) Pay attention towards your employees and production activities
When a PR crisis hits, it hits hard enough to divert all your attention away from your employees and production activities. Hence, it is vital that you concentrate on your production and seize away all the negativity that the PR crisis brings with itself. Don’t forget your employees. Ensure that their morale is high and they are still motivated so that you still continue providing the level of services and products that the organization did, and continue working efficiently. Employees are also an organisation’s biggest advocates, so they shouldn’t be left out of the fold when it comes to communications.
4) Be proactive about your PR and always be prepared
It is important that as a firm you are proactive about your PR way before a PR crisis could actually happen. It is imperative for any organization to create a crisis plan so that if and when a crisis strikes, the organization and its employees are well adept to take stock of the situation while also tailoring the existent public relations plan to suit the situation at hand.
5) Don’t wait for a PR crisis: do good from the beginning
From the very beginning of your company ensure that you conduct PR activities which will overtime help you gain large public confidence and industry reputation, so that later these entities could come to your defense incase of a PR crisis.
6) Don’t panic and take responsibility
If you panic and try to ignore the situation it will do you no good. In fact take responsibility and don’t try to cover up your PR crisis or worse play the blame game. Hire a professional and let him/her evaluate and work on the situation while you continue to focus on your usual business activities along with re-assuring stakeholders. Arguing with the media and the public could be one of the worst ways for a brand to go on a downward spiral. Handle the situation by acknowledging people’s concern and answering them via press releases, press conferences or social media.
7) Be ready for trolls
During a PR crisis it is possible that you may become a victim of troll on social media so have a plan for the same as well and remember to review it as often as possible. In case of trolls going out of hand, deal with them in an astute manner and let the public know that you will work towards rectifying the situation as soon as possible. You can come up with new policies to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Show empathy and act quickly before people start losing faith in your brand.
8) Monitor and plan your actions
Ensure that you have a team that is on high alert so that no further damage takes place or lets the firm take any wrong step that may end up giving more ammunition to the public against you. Never comment on any matters without consulting your PR team. And always be transparent in your approach.
Reviewing your organization’s crisis management plans on a six-monthly or annual basis is a good way to stay ahead of the curve and preempt any emergencies