Not handling a PR crisis well can negatively affect businesses for many years, which means customers aren’t going to be interested in a brand with a damaged reputation. Especially when those situations hit the front pages of news outlets, those are crises that stick in people’s minds for years to come.
Fortunately, when companies are able to manage a bad situation with a strong crisis communication strategy, the crisis itself can end up being turned on its head and developed into a positive marketing campaign.
All companies should develop multiple crisis communications strategies with plans to prepare for PR crisis situations, especially in our current times when customers have a lot of information available to them at the tips of their fingers and stories are able to go viral in just a few minutes.
The way that a company prepares for and deals with a crisis situation entails crisis management. Whether that situation involves technology, personnel, safety, or assets, it doesn’t matter. The main goal of crisis management is to mitigate the negative impact of the situation on the company’s reputation and its day to day operations.
And to implement a successful crisis management plan, the business first has to figure out its potential crisis situations and any risks associated with them. Then, it should also create strategies to deal with those situations and make sure all of the individuals involved with the business have a great understanding of those strategies.
As marketer Alexei Orlov of MTM has said, “Companies can do plenty of things to avoid turning a small situation into a big crisis, but the first step is always going to be to plan and prepare for all of those potential situations. By identifying strengths and weaknesses, companies can figure out which negative situations could potentially impact the business. Then, the company can strengthen those gaps and conduct simulated scenarios of different situations to understand how the crisis events could unfold and prepare different responses for each one.”
This is all done with a crisis communications plan, where the company creates a crisis communications team with guidelines establishing how the business can communicate with everyone involved, the types of messages that will be stated, and how the information will be distributed.
Whenever a crisis actually happens, the business can then turn to its crisis communications plan and team to execute a strong response to the situation. The first step for the company should be to assess the situation to be able to determine the right level of response and then deliver that response promptly before things ever get a chance to potentially escalate.
The response and the plan shouldn’t only focus on the general public, the target audience, and the media. Instead, it should take the employees and stakeholders into account as well, when creating and delivering the response. That way, everyone connected to the business will be well-prepared and know what to do during the crisis itself, and the situation can be mitigated much faster and easier.
About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR.