January 29, 2020

PR CRISIS 101

By Madeline Balicoco

A crisis can arise at any moment, whether it’s because sales are coming in faster than your inventory or a group of brand advocates are providing passionate feedback. With so many different channels online, in print and through broadcast, there are a ton of different avenues to repair and maintain your brand’s reputation. So here comes the most daunting question: where do you start? There are companies that anticipate and prepare for a crisis and there are others who don’t. And if you listened to our previous discussion with crisis expert and accredited PR professional David Oates, you want to stay ahead of the game to address every crisis with empathy and action. That’s why we rounded up some basic steps your company can take to navigate through a crisis.

  1. Build out an operations plan. We know, we know – aren’t we talking about a “PR crisis?” Well, a major crisis disrupts your company’s operations, whether it’s a breach of customer data or inappropriate employee behavior. For every crisis that your organization can anticipate, you need to build out a plan to address it from an operations standpoint. How you take action on the crisis internally will solve the problem in the long run. If you solely rely on communication, rather than taking action, then you’ll continue to encounter these challenges as you operate.
  2. Get as many key decision makers in a room as possible. Our founder Jenn always recommends having a call list of pertinent decision makers related to a specific crisis, whether it includes your director of operations, CEO, communications manager and/or HR director. That way, when a crisis hits you can call who you need at the drop of a hat and come to a decision as quickly as possible.
  3. Communicate with your employees. When it comes to taking action, you need to tell your employees what’s happening and how they can address the crisis in their operations. Your employees are at the front line, so the strongest approach is to ensure they’re up-to-speed, so you can focus on your customers next.
  4. Reach out to your customers. By equipping your employees with information to address this crisis, they’ll help knock out this step while your company can address it from an official standpoint. A good rule of thumb is to address the concern with the customers who are the most affected, rather than disseminating a blanket statement to everyone. In some circumstances, a website glitch or store operation may not affect every single customer. So you want to ensure you’re fixing the problem with the folks that are actually affected.
  5. Get your investors and stakeholders caught up. This is an incredibly important group, but you’ll want to ensure you’ve crossed off everything you can to address the crisis before reporting back to your investors and stakeholders. Your employees and customers should always come first.
  6. Respond to the media. Most people want to jump to this step first, but it should actually come last. Your employees and customers will be the most affected by a crisis, so you should always communicate with them first. That way, when you respond to any media inquiries your actions will back up the response messaging you’ve prepared.

Navigating a crisis can be tricky, which is why we always refer our clients to David Oates’ PR Security Service. And if you’re looking to maintain your brand’s reputation through an integrated approach, email us at [email protected].

Share