The Year That Changed Everything for Crisis PR

2021-01-04 by Ronn Torossian
crisis pr

After a year of uncertainty and chaos, things have changed for crisis communications and crisis PR, which means public relations experts have to learn more new things to keep up with the new demands. The beginning of a brand new decade saw a world filled with protests, economic uncertainty, and a global pandemic to go song with everything, which has meant plenty of changes in terms of crisis PR.

Some crisis PR professionals have even started suggesting that practically everyone has entered this industry. Although certain things have definitely changed in terms of crisis PR, specifically some strategies and tactics, which means these professionals have to adapt to be better prepared for the new year.

Because 2020 was a very tumultuous year for practically everyone worldwide, PR professionals had to change the way they look at a PR crisis, how they communicate during one, and what the appropriate responses should be.

Plenty of big brands are still facing multiple and overlapping problems, at a global scale, constantly. The situation is only exacerbated by the unimaginable amount of news and information being created and shared online. Furthermore, these brands have had to start differentiating fact from fiction and have had to face misinformation whenever it occurs.

Considering there are several platforms that the public uses, and the ideas they are sharing on those platforms, and the speed at which these ideas are spread, it’s no easy task. We’ve started living through a time when brands have had to act as a real-time resource to shareholders, stakeholders, employees, and consumers and become a credible and trustworthy voice in the crowd that can make sense of all this information overload.

One of the biggest threats to brand reputation for the future and the present is disinformation and all its forms. The downside to this threat is that disinformation can easily spread through false narratives on multiple platforms at very high speeds, which leaves brands scrambling to make sense of the entire situation in the first place.

The best way to combat this fight against disinformation is by having a clear crisis PR strategy and monitoring real-time interactions and conversations online about issues that can have any impact on brands. This, along with a strong crisis PR plan, can allow brands faster cross-functional ability and help them address any potential issues much faster before they turn into a PR crisis.

Unfortunately, this is the one thing that plenty of brands get wrong because they wrongly assume that if they ignore and avoid a problem, it will go away on its own, and the company’s reputation won’t be damaged. However, this is what turns a situation into a crisis because as soon as the brand starts ignoring conversations and doesn’t take control of the narrative, the conversation will develop further without any input from key company leaders in a way that damages the brand’s reputation.

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 250 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities