All companies should be prepared for the inevitably of a PR crisis. It can happen to anyone, and it can be about anything – from a negative review to a failed event, or even a data breach. When a company is facing a PR crisis, it should create a response quickly and carefully, to limit the amount of damage the company’s reputation is going to receive.
The prevalence of social media platforms also means that a crisis situation can instantly spread to all corners of the globe – and it also means that a crisis situation can be caused by the smallest things. Companies have to combat rumors, hackers, cyber-attacks, and fake news on a daily basis.
For companies to be able to distinguish whether a certain situation falls into the spectrum of a PR crisis, they have to utilize social listening. Because a single negative review rarely equates to a PR crisis, but when one bad review starts snowballing into dozens, or hundreds that can impact the company’s reputation, then it turns into a PR crisis.
During a PR crisis, no piece of content should be released to the public if it hasn’t been checked and approved beforehand. To do this, companies should establish social media policies and guidelines, which will help them avoid any mistakes. These policies and guidelines are also helpful in avoiding potential security or legal issues, as they detail how the company should be behaving on social media platforms and protect the brand’s reputation.
The fact that PR crises are unpredictable is what makes them difficult for companies to be prepared for. Whether it’s something that an executive or a manager has done that was prominent in the public’s eye, or it’s an employee who shares a piece of information that wasn’t supposed to be shared, people’s behaviors can’t be controlled, and that’s what often leads to a PR crisis.
However, time is essential during a PR crisis, and companies facing a negative situation should be fast and delicate in their responses and messaging.
Planning beforehand is one key way that companies can save time, lessen stress and confusion when a crisis situation strikes. This is done with a crisis PR team that will detail what happens during different crisis scenarios, what the company’s response can be, and how to move forward.
If a crisis PR plan is solid and strong long before a crisis situation happens the outcome of that situation is going to be a lot more positive for the company’s reputation. This crisis PR plan should cover a variety of potential crisis scenarios, with clear guidelines on what can and can’t be said by the company’s spokesperson, where the company needs to direct its attention, what can be done to help any victims from the crisis, and what the company will be doing to avoid similar situations in the future.
During a crisis, the company should be listening to what the victims or the public have to say, address any potential misinformation, and consistently update people both internally and externally with any new developments and responses.
Finally, after a crisis, the company should work on building back its reputation and trust with the target audience and the public, and continue to monitor what people are saying about the brand to catch any potential negative trends.
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