In an age where social media stands as the sole custodian of businesses’ reputations, it doesn’t take long for that seemingly insignificant incident to spiral into your worst PR nightmare. PR crises aren’t uncommon. They can happen to the best of us. Besides, it’s not the fact that it happened but the plan of action that matters.
Ready for the million-dollar question?
*Drum roll please*
How do you manage a PR catastrophe?
There are a number of strategies you can employ to clean your most recent PR mess – or at least lessen the blow for your company or brand. But it all boils down to how well you can execute your master plan.
So we gathered all our PR specialists and reputation managers under one roof to discuss how people can turn their worst nightmare into something that doesn’t scream doom for them.
1. Damage Assessment
It’s a mess. It’s good that you know it’s a mess because you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. So take a step back and assess what happened. Find out how it happened from your incident report log (if you don’t keep one, now might be a good time to start). Track the incident to its source so you can figure out a way to counter the event that triggered this entire crisis.
You can’t take too long, though, because the clock’s ticking, so onboard valuable executives that bring in different experiences and backgrounds to your small PR council.
2. Take the Lead
The cat’s out of the bag. Read that again. Denial won’t get you the results you want, but quick thinking will. So release a statement – the format doesn’t matter; it could be a press release, a blog, or even a post. Tell your customer base that you have identified and are actively addressing the issue. Try to be as truthful and transparent as possible because all eyes are on you, and you don’t want to give your audiences a reason to double down on their negative efforts.
The internet sets businesses virtually ablaze every week and gives them a place to redeem themselves. So jump on the redemption bandwagon and clear the air to buy yourself some breathing room.
3. Onboard Competent PR Specialists
You’ve got a PR crisis on the loose; who do you call? Ghost B – A PR agency, that’s who. Agencies like us eat bad press for breakfast, which makes us some of the only people who can help you brave the PR storm. Our PR experts and reputation managers bring with them experience, skill, and, most importantly, coffee.
The fact of the matter is that you’re not the first person to experience a PR crisis, and you probably won’t be the last, so why not let the experts deal with the muck?
4. Get Ahead of Internet Trolls
Time – for SMBs – during a crisis is the only currency. They can’t afford to wait a week just to devise a strategy that falls flat the moment it steps out. They need to react fast if they want to save face. Start communicating, refunding, or whatever it is that you think will help you calm the crowds.
In other words, do whatever you can to keep your current patrons engaged.
5. Choose a Spokesperson
The media needs a face to throw its virtual tomatoes at, so you give it one. *Sinister laugh*. Just kidding. However, you will need a spokesperson who is good at their job. After all, they will be the ones who face the demented questions of journalists, reporters, and basically anyone who feels like asking one.
They need to be articulate and well-versed in how your company functions. So think hard and long about who you want representing your company because when the dust settles, that one person could make or break your company.
PR crises are unpredictable; that’s what makes them so scary. But there are surefire ways to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, and even if you can’t, we’re always a call away.