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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

PR Tip Tuesday Crisis Communications + Management Advice

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Next up for our PR Tip Tuesday Series is Crisis Management tips for your business or brand.  Have a topic you'd like to see covered by us? Leave a comment here with your question or topic.

Lately I have had more than one person ask me for Crisis Management tips when it comes to PR.   It is my experience that every company, no matter how big or small, will have to conduct some sort of crisis communications at some point in their tenure.  My biggest piece of advice is to be prepared ahead of time for Crisis Management and have a plan and well informed people in place in advance.  There are many different ways a crisis can manifest and even more ways you can react to it. I can’t cover all those possibilities here, but I can give you my general thoughts on how things you may have not yet considered. 

Here are the top things that come to mind that you should do.

 1.  Designate an authoritative spokesperson for your brand or company.  The more people that talk to media, etc. the more chances you’ll have for your message to be mis-interpreted.  Make sure it is clearly outlined “who” will say or do “what” in the event there is a crisis.

2.  Control your message internally and externally. Give consistent messages to your employees, share holders, the media, friends, etc.  There is nothing that will blow up faster than contradictory messages.

3.  Identify media to reach out to so you are seen as proactive rather than only being reactive in responding to the crisis.  Responding only to inquires can made you inadvertently look like you have something to hide.  Reach out to investors, business partners, industry experts and other companies to speak out actively about the positive things your company or brand has done.

4.  Honesty is always the best policy!  Be as open as you can with your company and the media.  Never respond with “no comment”… be helpful and tell the media you will get them the information they need in a timely matter. Responding, “I don’t know but I will look into it and get back to you” is always better than “no comment”.  And never, ever, lie.  A “crisis” can quickly escalate to a “scandal” if  you are found to be attempting to cover something up.

5.  Admit any wrongs rather than point fingers. Pointing fingers is NEVER an effective strategy. Repeat #4.

6.  Solve the “problem” that caused the crisis in the first place and communicate to your audience that you have solved it. If fixing the problem wasn’t enough, consider offering a charity program or goodwill service in condolence for your companies real or perceived misgivings.

Consulting a professional PR Pro during a crisis is also always a very good idea.  Especially someone who isn’t personal invested in your company or brand, who can give you solid advice on what is the best move to begin repairing any damage done.    Learn from the mistakes  you made, make amends, learn the lessons and move forward. The sooner you do all of the above, the sooner your audience will too.

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