Updated: Jul 3
Exactly 117 years ago, the first PR crisis occurred. In 1906, 53 people were killed in a train crash in Atlantic City. It was at this time that Lee often called the father of Public Relations, convinced the railroad operators to be honest and always available to the media. Guess what? It worked.
117 years have gone by, but what remains constant is the necessity to honestly deal with a crisis.
TO DEAL WITH A CRISIS, ONE MUST LEARN TO PREDICT IT
Or maybe not! It is not easy for any brand or PR team to foretell a crisis. However, you can always be prepared beforehand. Here are the stages you must go through to have a full-proof crisis management plan ready.
1. Assemble a Response Team
Every business should have a response team, whether or not a crisis has hit you. The key to crisis management is to be fast and quick with your responses. A pre-assigned response team can be fully ready to speak up if and when the crisis arrives. Make sure that your crisis response team is made of people from both internal and external experts.
2. Preach the Protocol
Unless your team members don't understand their responsibilities, they might not be able to take a proactive stand during a PR crisis. Therefore, no matter what your crisis management strategy is, make certain all the employees and team members are informed and enlightened on how to respond to the media.
3. Organise Brainstorming
Conduct monthly brainstorming sessions to identify crisis threats that can occur. Once you’ve identified the threats, evaluate your policies and strategies to find out how prepared you’ll be if the situation actually occurs. This activity will not only help you to think out of the box but will also keep you fully prepared to tackle a crisis.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE CRISIS ARRIVES?
Here’s a fact, 63% of a brand’s value depends on its public image.
Also, a crisis has the potential to severely damage the image and bring down the value of a brand. To keep yourself from facing this, here’s how you can subtly deal with a PR crisis.
STEP 1 - Identify The Type
What has caused the crisis? Does it result from your company's carelessness, an employee's wrongful act, or a miscommunication between your brand and your customers? The first step to solving a problem is by identifying it.
STEP 2 - Analyse The Vulnerability
Do it within two hours! Conduct a vulnerability assessment and identify the areas that need immediate attention. Revise a holding statement and keep your response team ready. Decide how you want the message to go out, in a proactive or a reactive way. Make sure whatever responses you have prepared are fully transparent and honest.
STEP 3 - Avoid Escalation
Try to prevent the crisis from escalating. Accept your mistakes, apologise with humility, and make sure no one from the response or any other team overtalks. Other than this, make sure you have a very strong and firm holding statement ready. Have a planned and predicted strategy and follow through.
STEP 4 - Monitor Your Online Presence
Whatever is said about you or by you online also holds crucial power to make or break the game. Carefully monitor brand mentions, blogs, and articles that are being posted about you. Identify problematic content and take action against them before it can worsen the situation.
STEP 5 - Learn and Move Forward
A crisis is not over until you have learned your lesson from it. Evaluate your crisis intervention strategy and be critical of what statements you release even when the crisis is over. Furthermore, understand where your strategy was lagging behind and try to fix the loopholes for the future.
ONE THING TO KEEP IN MIND
It gets worse before it gets better!
Don’t be afraid if you think the situation is getting out of hand. Stay transparent in your approach and stick to your crisis management plan. As the title suggests, crisis management is an art and learning any art takes time. However, one will always find a way out as long as they are firm to succeed.