When we least expect it, disaster occurs. Sometimes it is on a large-scale, and sometimes only those closest to you know that something happened. When managing a company, it is likely that the smallest occurrences can be considered major disasters. As a PR pro, it is your duty to know how to dig yourself and your organization out of even the thickest mud. We referred to an online article by Forbes to help us give you the best how-to guide on organizing your crisis PR campaign and we found that in these dire moments, preparation is key.
1. Be Prepared
Whether you operate your company from your bedroom or from an 18-story office building, your company should have a crisis strategy and it should be one that is in place before you ever need to use it. This means keeping a close eye on anything and anyone that can dig-up dirt about you or find those tiny incidents you tried to sweep under the rug. Internet outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs can be sites for enemies so keep your security settings tight and make sure you have the right comments and people contributing to your social media. This also means creating a network of media outlets, friends and specific clients that you can run to if something bad does happen in your business. Maintaining their trust and defining them as your go-to not only reassures them that they are safe, but it also gives you a buffer of contacts to refer to when you need their confidence and access to resources.
2. Have Fast Reflexes
You remember how to do this from childhood, whether you broke a window with a baseball or your spilt nail polish on the dining room floor; the quicker you react to a situation the quicker it gets solved. The last thing you want as a professional is to try to hide or diminish the situation. The crisis will not go away, so if you have to break the bad news, doing it sooner rather than later is the best bet. Howard Rubenstein, founder of Rubenstein Public Relations in Manhattan notes, “If you [release] it over a week or two, it looks like you’re hiding something.”
3. One comment is better than, “No Comment”
“No comment” is never the right answer- it smacks of guilt: There are a hundred ways to say no comment without saying that specifically,” says Rubenstein. Even if you have yet to figure out all of the facts, by actively demonstrating that you are addressing the situation, you create the impression that you are experienced and will give an answer they can trust when you feel comfortable. A simple comment saying, “You are diligently working on the situation and will report back as soon as possible,” serves a safe and accurate response if you find you are short on words and answers.
4. Maintain One Voice
When you are under rapid-fire from multiple outlets, it may seem more comfortable to have other people answer their calls, respond to their emails, and to please their needs. This cluster of frantic responses and multiple contacts sending messages is what Rubenstein refers to as, “a recipe for disaster.” It is more efficient and image-worthy to delegate the task of fielding press to maybe one or two of your most trusted employees who can then take the time to answer the press in a timely and relaxed fashion. The last thing you would want is for hundreds of your employees to be putting multiple spins on situation that could have been handled with one simple response.
5. Be Humble
“It’s not the same thing as accepting liability…you need to impart a strong sense of responsibility and commitment,” says Bill Keegan, head of crisis management at Eldman. When you err on the side of contrition if infringements get truly serious, and you reach out to other charity and good-works organizations, then humility and kindness is always rewarded and most always is rewarded in your favor.