No matter the size of your business or how diplomatic it aims to be, there are many reasons your company could experience a reputation crisis. Therefore, it is essential for your business to be prepared for them. If you think your business is exempt from experiencing a communications crisis, you are setting your business up for disaster.
The list of potential causes for these types of crises is extensive. From data breaches to sexual harassment complaints to product malfunctions and recalls, and misbehaving employees – it is vital to be prepared for every potential scenario. And with aggressive media inquiries, clickbait headlines, and viral social media sharing, even a minor misstep can massively blow up, and very quickly. This article will look at ways to prevent this and to prepare your business for any potential crises.
Have A PR Strategy Ready
Having a well-documented and comprehensive crisis management plan prepared is crucial to successfully dealing with a reputation crisis. PR specialists, Pagefield, state that “when a crisis, issue, or dispute has the potential to tarnish your brand, a robust communications strategy is essential to keep your business reputation intact.”
Implementing a strong, well-thought PR strategy is an essential factor for business success, regardless of the industry. Public relations isn’t just about generating news coverage, it’s also all about handling bad publicity if you’re ever unlucky enough to receive any.
Putting a strategy in place should involve selecting and training a response team. This key group will have the authority to decide how the business will respond and will ideally be able to reach decisions quickly. The team may also include outside legal counsel. This crisis response team should also assign a spokesperson and provide outlines of how key information will be communicated to internal and external stakeholders and to the general public. PR plans need to circulate throughout your business to ensure everyone is familiarised with the plan.
Monitor Your Traditional & Social Media
Media monitoring provides essential information before, during, and after a PR crisis. Media has a huge impact on consumer’s behaviours and opinions. According to a survey by Clutch, 46% of consumers who identified a brand with negative-press also have a negative perception of that brand. It is crucial to be continuously monitoring your business’ name in the news and in social media comments. Social media allows opinions to change and news to travel quickly. By analysing online conversations you can help identify early warning signs so your business can self-correct and avoid crises altogether. Social listening can help your business plan and publish appropriate content while monitoring your reputation. Take advantage of social listening software and media monitoring to help your brand prepare, detect, and address public relations crises as they arise.
There are critical actions that need to take place when a PR crisis arises. These all need to be done appropriately. This involves responding quickly and accepting responsibility. Any communication needs to be done in a candid, transparent, and honest way, and your business needs to show enormous empathy and compassion. Being familiar and informed with appropriate communication practices for a PR situation is key for your business to be well prepared to deal with them when any arise. If they do arise, it is also important to act quickly. The first 48-hours are very important when it comes to a PR crisis. The situation needs to immediately be assessed and the situation thoroughly investigated. This will determine if an apology is warranted. If an apology is warranted, appoint a public spokesperson (who preferably has received media training) to present an apology and message with credibility.
Practice The Plan
Do not create a PR plan and then just merely leave it at that. You have to plan, test, practice, evaluate, re-test, re-evaluate, evolve, etc. Run PR crisis simulations to test your preparedness. And while it is impossible to be prepared for every kind of crisis imaginable, it is helpful to brainstorm different types of disasters and other potential PR problems and craft tailored plans to specifically respond to each of them.
In today’s age, businesses face greater risks of suffering a PR crisis than ever before. Therefore preparing a plan to handle a calamity is essential, as even the slightest indication that a business is at risk of a downfall can dissuade consumers from supporting that brand. We hope this article will aid you in making the necessary steps to becoming prepared for any PR crisis you may face in the future.