A public relations crisis can be one of the most challenging experiences for an organization. The effect of a crisis depends on the communication crisis management plan of a company.
If the PR team is well organized, then it is highly likely to maintain the brand’s reputation. When a PR crisis occurs, a crisis response team should engage in crisis communication to deal with the situation.
Crisis response involves the strategy that Public relations professionals will use to instruct information and manage the reputation of the brand. It is the responsibility of an organization to ensure that problematic issues do not escalate to the critical stage.
What is crisis public relations?
A PR emergency is any event that occurs and disrupts the normal activities of a company shifting brand perception. It can either be internal or external but in both cases, PR professionals must work to restore the organization’s reputation. When a PR disaster occurs, a company should approach PR pros to handle the situation.
What are the three types of crisis?
Three kinds of crises. Creeping crisis – a predicted occurrence that most decisions don’t consider. Slow-burning – warning of a potential threat. Sudden – Damage is already occurring and is expected to grow worse.
What to do if a crisis hits
The appropriate response to a crisis is a well-thought-out strategy that caters to reputation management. By maintaining favorable communications, any organization can better effect a pr crisis process.
The first thing to do when a crisis hits is to collect and gather thoughts. No one wants to lead any crisis communications plan with their thoughts all over the place. Besides a calm mind is in a better position to think critically and thoroughly about how to create a response to a crisis.
It is the responsibility of the team lead to be calm and collected given that all other employees wait to be instructed on what to do. Since the crisis deals with brand reputation, it should be approached with caution and a clear mind.
Create a crisis response team
A well-prepared reply team is essential when dealing with a social media crisis. The crisis responding party will only be effective if an organization employs the expertise of PR pros.
The team will include the social media team and other staff members who can gather data from various media channels. Social media can be quite useful when looking for data.
It is the responsibility of the team to assess the issue and the risks that come with it. Emergencies can have varying ramifications and it is up to an organization to prevent a lot of damage to the business.
Make a crisis communications plan
The appropriate reply to a social media crisis includes a solid strategy that seeks to address the situation. When organizations respond to exigent situations, they seek to control and minimize the risks of the problem at hand.
The responding team makes a thorough review of the collected data so as to structure a communication strategy that will control the conversation. A good plan includes a number of aspects that will make it successful.
- A risk review
- An activation protocol
- Communication programs
Assess the crisis situation
A crisis does not appear out of the blue. More often than not, there are causative things that bring about a PR crisis.
When an organization is dealing with a social media crisis, the PR pros must look at what customers on social media are saying. The data collected will help with reputation leadership and coming up with a crisis communication plan.
It is a bad idea for the company’s spokesperson to address the public without knowing why the PR crisis happened, what caused it and how the affected are fairing. Emergency communications are not effective without detailed information on the table.
PR crisis management professionals usually start communication from within the organization. Before a statement like a press release is sent out to the public, those working in the company should speak with one voice. While employees might speak during different instances, it is important to communicate the same message.
A public relations crisis in an organization includes everyone who works in that company. When a crisis situation occurs, it is important for that company to have transparent internal communication to avoid inconsistencies in their communication strategy.
Stakeholders should always be kept in the loop no matter how bad things are. Business news should not be a source of disturbing news for stakeholders ut should transform into a platform of crisis communications.
Write a press release
Press releases are one of the best media coverage tools for handling a crisis situation. While many companies use them to drive an agenda forward, they can be used to respond quickly to a PR crisis. When a crisis situation hits, press releases are effective outreach tools that can provide the appropriate response that the firm needs during such a time.
A press release is no longer about just disseminating news, it can help the efforts to manage rejoinder efforts. A crisis response team will come up with what needs to be communicated. Remember, a press release needs to be transparent and straight to the point while working on restoring the brand’s reputation.
A press release should be truthful and should contain information about what has happened, how the organization feels about it, and its response. The response should aim to control and manage brand prestige.
Engage in social listening and use media monitoring tools for sentiment analysis
Media monitoring helps with collecting information and understanding how the public perceives the brand. During a public relations crisis, social media tends to be ablaze with whatever is going on. In order for PR pros to devise a crisis communications plan, they must gather data from different social media channels.
It is very easy to ruin the online standing of an organization in the wake of a social media crisis. Furthermore, if the issue escalates to a full-blown crisis, the plan for crisis outreach should be outstanding and effective.
Media monitoring is crucial and useful when crisis managers are looking at external information before formulating a response to a crisis. Crisis communications can help prevent a crisis from getting to the critical stage.
Issue vs PR crisis management
Issue management is the proactive approach to any issues that might develop or happen in an organization while crisis management is the reactive response to a problem that is already happening.
Crisis communications should be immediate without delay. The moment there is enough information gathered, the organization’s spokesperson should give the appropriate response to the public. If the spokesperson does not respond quickly to the brand crisis, they might have to manage PR crises that might arise due to delay.
Even though the responses to PR crises should be prompt, the organization should always follow a proven strategy. Media training is essential whenever an organization’s spokesperson decides to go in front of cameras. The language and message delivery differentiate between amateurs and pros.
Monitor and measure sentiment
It is always a good idea to monitor the media attention that the brand receives. The results of what people are saying can be positive, negative, or neutral. If the comments in the media are positive, then the brand is going in the right direction.
If the feedback is negative, there is a lot to be done to salvage the brand’s online reputation. If there is neutral feedback, then brand perception has not changed.
Measuring the results helps with future campaigns and avoiding looming crises that can easily be avoided. Various channels should be considered for communicating, like TV and radio, to provide information by observing which industry competitors are receiving positive or negative news coverage.
Make a post-crisis plan
When an organization has dealt with a crisis it is important to market its brand and obtain positive reviews. After a crisis, a company should put up a strategy or strategies to identify potential crises. By doing so, the company will avoid a full-blown crisis which can pose some serious damage to the organization.
Now that the company has undergone a major crisis, it is time to make sure that future crises do not find the firm unprepared. The most significant thing to do is observe other industry competitors and what they are going through and use that as a template for creating communications.
What to avoid during a PR crisis
A public relations crisis can either be a success or a failure depending on how an organization addresses it. If poorly addressed the company might never recover at all but if properly and timely addressed, then the company will be good if not better.
One of the most important things an organization should avoid is poor communication. Apologies and the promise to rectify the situation is the kind of information that the public should hear. Furthermore, the fact that the company is communicating, shows that it is headed in the right direction.
Organizations should avoid delayed responses. Going quiet on a burning issue is waiting for disaster to happen. There are reasons why big companies respond quickly to any PR crisis. Preserving the reputation of an organization should always be one of the long-term aspects to be addressed.
The effect of a PR crisis on a business
There are two major effects of a public relations crisis. One borders on the reputation of a brand while the second one is about the sales of the company. Even though the two are different, they can be intertwined and it is most likely that if one side suffers, the other one does so as well.
When clients lose confidence and trust in an organization, the brand’s reputation can easily go down the drain. Every company should engage in a crisis communications plan that seeks to restore and maintain the trust and positive perception of the public.
The biggest blow to a product-based company is the decline in sales numbers. People will stop going to a specific store because of what is going on in the company and what everyone is saying about it. Even how companies respond to the ongoing issues will communicate truly what the company is about.
The importance of leadership in a crisis
Crisis communications should be genuine and transparent enough to appeal to the emotions of customers. Whether it is during the crisis or afterward, clear communication channels show clients that the business has caring people behind it. In addition, crisis communications are essential to keeping everyone in the loop.
Crisis communications enable an organization to respond to a crisis. Having a great group of communication professionals will ensure the issue is dealt with immediately. Murnahan Public Relations consultants can monitor a crisis PR and employ a crisis plan to handle the problem. Furthermore, the PR firm gets the hard work out of the executives’ hands and ensures that the crisis response will yield results. Transparent outreach is important when it comes to resolving an issue between two parties.
Stay Prepared for Crises and Keep Your Response Plan Up-to-Date
Brian is ready to help your business prepare or succeed with crisis communications.
Ultimately, identifying a crisis before it reaches its peak damaging potential is key to managing it successfully and minimizing its effects. With MPR’s help, you’ll be able to handle any crisis that comes your way and communicate effectively until recovery.
We can help your organization with crisis communication, issues management, communication plans, media training, and tips. Contact us today to see how we can develop or rebuild your brand’s public image.