Navigating a PR Crisis
It’s not always easy for companies to navigate a PR crisis, but with the right preparation, any company can recover from a negative situation. But, first of all, it’s important to know that a PR crisis happens whenever a negative situation threatens to directly impact a company’s public perception and reputation. Although negative situations are always likely to happen, it’s the way in which a company responds to that situation that truly determines the impact it will have on its reputation. To limit the damage, it’s best for companies to prepare for different crisis scenarios beforehand.
Every company needs to have a PR crisis team in place, and that team should start working on a plan as soon as it’s formed. During a crisis situation, companies should know who they should be communicating with regularly to make sure that the right people will be communicating with the public and with media outlets on behalf of a business. The most effective crisis PR teams are made up of both external PR crisis experts that can look at the situation from the perspective of a journalist and in-house professionals that know the business in detail. It’s also important for companies to quickly react to these types of situations quickly, and communicate with a single voice throughout, which is why having a team of people is so important, as having a few different people speak on behalf of a business can lead to more negativity and a lot more miscommunication.
The crisis PR team, as previously noted, should start working on a crisis PR plan as soon as it’s formed to create a clear protocol for any crisis communication efforts. Each member of this team needs to have a full understanding of their responsibilities both during the creation of the plan, as well as during a crisis situation, and know whether they and the company should be taking a reactive or a proactive approach in the media coverage of the situation. No matter what kind of strategy a company decides to devise, it’s important for the crisis situation protocol to be effectively communicated to everyone inside the company, as well as anyone that might be approached from the outside to speak on the behalf of the business. Everyone needs to know where they should be directing any questions or queries during a time of crisis, as this strategy will save the company a lot of time and effort, and avoid having to waste more time in explaining comments from potentially unofficial business representatives at a later time.
During a crisis situation, the crisis PR team should be working to gather all of the facts about that situation and develop the company’s response to it. To do that, the team should be thinking about which response would be the most transparent way to address the crisis and what the company is already doing or will be doing about the crisis, and taking accountability for it without placing blame on anyone else.