PR Crisis: Handling, Avoiding, and Fixing Crisis

PR crises affect companies uniquely. That’s because different crises have different impacts, and different companies have different responses to crises. With some firms being smart with their responses, others are equally disastrous in PR crisis management.

Regardless of an organization’s effectiveness in a PR crisis, here are ways that a company should prepare for a PR crisis or address one when it hits:

Creating a Crisis Plan

Having a well-drafted and approved document outlining what an organization will do in the event of a crisis can make a lot of difference. An effective crisis plan should provide a detailed outline of four aspects.

Crisis Communication Coordinators

Specifying crisis communication coordinators allows organizations to identify when facing PR crises and when to execute a PR crisis plan. When properly constituted, the team of crisis communication coordinators can leverage their expertise to help brands forestall crises or respond promptly averting unnecessary blowbacks.

Specify how Crisis Coordinators Meet

With the pandemic changing how organizations conduct business, brands have to specify how their crises coordinators meet and plan for PR crises. Thanks to the popularity of digital meeting platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Slack chat, brands can arrange a crisis coordinators’ meeting with ease. That’s regardless of the physical location of a crisis coordinator in an organization.

Selecting A Spokesperson or spokespersons

Identifying an individual or individuals who respond to inquiries supports a brand’s efforts to fix the PR crises. Organizations can train selected spokespersons on handling media inquiries, minimizing negative press that may result from a falsified or ambiguous response to sensitive inquiries.

Specify roles to be affected by a PR crisis

With crises driving customers and key stakeholders to media outlets and an organization’s website, brands should highlight the importance of IT departments expecting a jump in web traffic. At the same time, human resource departments should train selected spokespeople on how to interact with the media. Making appropriate adjustments helps brands deal with crisis-related fallouts.

Employ Social Listening and Monitoring Tools

Setting up social media monitoring tools to alert a brand to rising sentiments among industry stakeholders is a surefire way to preempt, avoid, or even fix the PR crisis. Investing in state-of-the-art social media monitoring platforms is a gamechanger. Brands can easily respond to dissatisfied customers, leverage fun trends, and contain issues before becoming a full-blown crisis.

React on Time with Appropriate Facts

If a PR crisis is escalating rapidly, brands must respond on time to address the problem and increased media and stakeholder scrutiny. Delayed responses often compound a problem, presenting the brand as unfeeling.

To add, lack of factual information is the beginning of a doomed PR response. Before putting-out an official statement, brands should gather intel and agree with their communication teams to share information with key stakeholders.

Take Ownership of a Crisis

An effective and one of the most consistent tactics across PR crisis responses is taking full responsibility for an issue that led to a crisis.

Taking Buffer as a case study, the company did not blame the hackers who accessed their system, their employees, or their client for not taking a joke. The company took full responsibility, offering a real apology.

By accepting the blame and apologizing, brands demonstrate the humanity behind the corporate guise. Since stakeholders are more willing to forgive humans than brands, this approach can forestall a deathly crisis.