5 Ways to Survive and Thrive in a PR Crisis

Nov 14, 2019 | Public Relations

Tips to Help You Prepare

You never thought it would happen to your organization, but here you are caught in the middle of a public relations crisis.

While managing a crisis situation can be stressful and overwhelming, there’s no reason for you or your team to run for the hills at the first hint of one. With careful planning and preparation, a crisis event can provide your organization a chance to reform your brand’s voice for the better.

At Gavin, we can help your organization with crisis communications training and support to effectively navigate through any chaotic situation. Check out these 5 tips to make it through a PR crisis and come out on top.

Be Prepared

Start developing a crisis strategy with key members of your team. We recommend identifying at least two vulnerabilities within the company, develop a plan of action in case those possibilities become reality and practice crisis control as a team.

Part of this strategy should include establishing a chain of command for approval of planned communications and how that messaging will be distributed. The plan of action should include specific steps that will be taken to resolve the crisis quickly in order to reduce public confusion.

Let’s look at KFC and their preparedness as an example. KFC takes crisis control practice to a whole new level at the company’s annual “Crisis College.”

During this annual training event, the company’s team must complete crisis simulations that can last for days at a time. For example, the team learns that a crisis can happen at any time. One year, the team received a crisis during their team celebration dinner and had to provide their full and undivided attention to the situation at hand.

There’s no right or wrong way to be prepared, but it’s important to have a protocol for rescuing your crew before disaster strikes and your brand takes a big financial hit.

Keep It Cool

Each situation is different. Anything from a poorly thought-out post on social media to a highly publicized act committed by one of your employees might be to blame for a crisis situation. Read our blog about the most infamous recent PR fails for proof.

If your team’s first instinct is to panic, you won’t be able to pull together an appropriate response. Having a set spokesperson is vital to communicating the message you want. Speaking points will help stick to the plan without giving out too much information.

Gavin can work with you and your leadership team to craft appropriate speaking points during a crisis. We also can provide advanced media training to ensure that your organization is better prepared for interactions with journalists.

Talk It Out

Using your agreed-upon plan as a guide, discuss how you plan to proceed with your team and anyone else who might be involved in crisis control. Get perspectives on what the best response might be from all angles of the company.

Releasing statements on social media and other channels are all viable options for publicly responding to a blunder. Also, it is beneficial to consider which public personas should be attached to these responses. Having the right spokesperson say the right thing can make all the difference in resolving your crisis situation. We recommend this being the President, CEO or department head.

Be Real and Rapid

If the source of your crisis situation is a social post from an employee, it might be tempting to point fingers at some mysterious “hacker,” an unidentifiable entity that might take the public’s eyes off of you for a while.

Even in cases where hacking might truly be the culprit, it rarely looks good to remove all of the blame from your own shoulders. Owning up to mistakes is generally perceived as honest and genuine, giving the public the impression that your brand has a sense of empathy and a willingness to resolve problems.

Of course, you need to be sure that you actually know what’s happening before you make a statement addressing the crisis. Gather the facts, review them with your leadership team, and then look to move forward. However, don’t wait too long to take action. The longer you delay your response, the more room the public has to claim you’re ignoring them, and misinformation can spread. Take control of the communications about the situation to position your organization as the trusted source for information.

They Might Forgive, But You Shouldn’t Forget

Even if your crisis control protocol goes off as planned and backlash is minimized, you shouldn’t move forward as though nothing ever happened.

Produce consistent content that increases the amount of searchable, SEO-pleasing content to replace the negative headlines that might have been plastered on Google in the wake of your PR crisis.

Positive news will show that your company is taking steps forward to make amends. Try creating news around community events the company is partaking in. Remember – quality is better than quantity. Don’t overload your feed with content, this may come off as fake.

By taking these steps, you’ll be able to use what might have been a disaster to craft an even stronger brand presence online and conquer your crisis like a pro.

Want to get ahead of potential crisis communication situations before they happen? We can help! Contact us today.