Weathering a Public Relations Nightmare
The 3 Smartest Ways to Weather a Public Relations Storm
Bad things happen to good companies, which is why having a strong PR plan in place is so important. Truth is, there are many ways a successful, reputable business can find itself in crisis. Some are internal struggles and some are from external threats.
The key to managing both the internal and external struggles is having a good public relations plan that can be called on when needed. For example, if you ever find yourself on the receiving end of some bad publicity, a good reputation alone will seldom be enough to see you through the day. Your company has to be able to handle these type of situations in real time.
Here are the 3 smartest ways public relations can help you get your business out of crisis.
- Have a Plan
This may seem obvious, but many businesses, especially the smaller and well established, have no plan in place for bad PR.
The fact is, a crisis management plan is crucial for survival. A good one will include the following:
- An outline of roles and communication tactics for senior leaders and staff. Designate spokespeople for dealing with the media.
- Preparing so that no one reacts defensively and everyone is versed in the appropriate response techniques.
- Message training is a must. Make sure your people know how to speak with the voice of the brand, even in troubling times.
Pro-Tip: The goal of having a plan is to make sure everyone knows how to act and communicate. Include your social media team in the crisis preparations. They will have a huge part to play in the event of a crisis.
- Be Transparent
Being transparent and open with media and consumers is key to keeping your head above water when the flood waters roll in. Your audience wants to trust you, and they want you to feel like you can trust them. Let the public know that you have acknowledged the problem and are working to fix it.
Pro-Tip: When a company releases a sincere, accountable statement, the public and customers feel respected.
- Use Social Media
Remember the tip about involving your social media team in all public relations preparations? There’s a big reason for that. Social media is the only form of media that requires engagement. After an incident, many of the people who trust you, hate you, or are just curious about you will turn to a company’s Facebook or Twitter for answers. When those answers aren’t being addressed, all hell breaks loose.
Example: This is an example of a public relations nightmare that got a bit out of hand for Cracker Barrel. It’s also hilarious reading.
What can we learn from Brad and his wife? The best thing for a company to do is get right out in front of the issue and start crafting thoughtful, honest status updates so people know you’re not ignoring the problem.