Every company strives to avoid a public relations (PR) crisis, but we see them every day. While there are the infamous
PR cases — think BP’s oil spill or Samsung’s flammable phones — a company of any size is at risk. If a PR crisis isn’t handled correctly, it can have catastrophic repercussions on your company’s reputation and even longevity.
It’s more critical than ever to effectively and efficiently manage PR crises in today’s digital age
, with relentless social media trolls and a 24-hour news cycle waiting for any disaster to strike. From a data breach to an executive scandal, it takes mere moments for a crisis to spread globally.
Here are 6 tips for navigating a PR crisis:
1. Have a Response Team Ready
You should have a small response team in place at all times, before a PR storm even begins brewing. This team should be well-trained to speak on behalf of the company, so that if a PR crisis does happen, the company can respond quickly and speak with one voice.
The team should include the company’s top PR executives, legal counsel, and the CEO. If your team lacks strong crisis communication expertise, consider retaining an agency that specializes in that. Having an outside perspective can be helpful.
2. Create a Strategy and Brief Your Organization on It
Protocol is key — each member of your response team should know their specific responsibilities, and all of your employees and stakeholders should know where to direct inquiries.
3. Craft Your Response
When an incident happens, it’s important to gather all relevant facts and then frame a response that explains what your company has done or will do, without casting any external blame.
4. Identify and Address the Affected Parties
The audience that needs to be addressed will depend on the situation, but always address the incident in the most transparent and timely way possible.
5. Monitor the Situation
As a PR crisis unfolds, it’s critical to assess your brand’s image. Closely monitor inbound and outbound communications to address relevant follow-up questions or concerns.
Additionally, follow what people are saying online and in the media. There are lots of tracking and monitoring tools out there to help you do so.
6. Review the Incident — and Learn From It
Once the crisis has concluded, hold a post-action review to determine how well your response team handled the situation. Discuss what you could’ve done differently in managing the conflict and how you can avoid such an incident in the future.
To-Do or Not To Do: Coming Out of a PR Crisis On Top
The list of what not to do in a PR crisis is even longer — don’t cast blame, don’t respond too quickly or slowly, don’t offer “no comment.” The dos and do nots of handling a PR crisis are meticulous and complex, which is why we’d recommend getting in touch
with a PR firm before an unexpected disaster hits.
Think PR is a full-service PR and communications agency. Check out our PR services on Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform that lists us as a top PR firm in Denmark! Also look over Clutch’s partner sites: The Manifest, a free company resource, and Visual Objects, which lists the past projects of creative agencies from around the world.