A public relations crisis can happen at any time to any company, and while circumstances vary wildly, it is important to be prepared. How a company responds to a crisis will affect whether the issue fades away or further aggravates the situation. With how fast news spreads in today’s world, you have to be ready. Having a crisis management plan in place for if or when a PR crisis happens is crucial for confident actions and positive outcomes.
Public relations crisis management is a process an organization undertakes to mitigate the impact of a significant event that poses a threat to the organization. So what could constitute a PR crisis? It starts from one or more things, like people, personnel, partners or products. You never know exactly what it’s going to be, but you should examine all the ways your business interacts with different variables and be ready for the unpleasant surprise. Let’s say it was a customer issue that has now gone viral on X, formerly Twitter. Does your customer service department know to whom to elevate the situation? Does the situation need a statement or would it make things worse? Sometimes drawing more attention to an issue can escalate the situation, whereas in other scenarios it may be important to publicly state what you are doing to resolve it. These are just some of the questions our PR team at Smith Kroeger can help answer, as well as plan workflows and decision-making processes around to help build the foundation of your PR communication philosophy and process.
Speed-to-information is critical when a PR crisis arises; every minute counts when people are waiting for you to respond. It’s important to draft example statements to have on hand for potential issues, that way your company is prepared with a solid starting point when something arises. You need to understand who is affected by the situation, whether it’s employees, news media, customers or others. Once you understand who is affected, you should follow your PR communication process with language that corresponds to your overall communication philosophy. It’s also important to understand how your leadership wants to react based on what the situation requires.
Once you have determined your next actions, whether it’s a statement or otherwise, you must monitor news and social media channels, be proactive and know where the story is going. What you should not do is send out a press release and think you are done. Many times you will be contacted for follow-up questions, which is something Smith Kroeger can help you prepare. Throughout a crisis, our PR team can help monitor what news channels are reporting, how social conversations are evolving and what additional potential impacts may be in store – and help plan what to do next.
While a PR crisis can be very stressful, our team of PR specialists can guide you and your business every step of the way. If you are interested in learning more about our PR services, please fill out a contact form on our website.