Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
Plenty of companies still don’t have a crisis communication plan set in place, yet most customers are using social media when engaging with a company that’s going through a PR crisis. This means that not having a good PR crisis plan can prove detrimental to a company, especially in an age when people can freely share their thoughts online and are looking for more transparency from the brands they want to support.
Taking the right steps before a crisis really lands is even more important than having a plan that maps out the steps to take during a PR crisis.
There is no given way in which a business can manage a crisis before it even happens, if that business doesn’t even know that something’s wrong. This can be easily solved by listening to what people are saying about the business on social media and monitoring all conversations around the brand. There are plenty of tools that companies can use to create alerts on certain keywords that they want to keep up with. This gives them time in advance to prepare and potentially avoid going through a full-blown crisis.
Chain of command
When a crisis strikes, the people that are going to be dealing with everything regarding the situation should know who they need to talk to or listen to. That’s why companies should have a document where they outline the team members on the crisis response team (which should encompass people from many departments, not just one or two) and contact information for these members.
Having timely communication during a crisis is essential because no one wants to be running around and panicking during an emergency to put out a press release or write a tweet for the public. Companies need to have communications materials that include response templates for several different situations and PR crisis scenarios.
Every now and then, companies should practice to see how quickly the PR crisis team can assemble and work through the steps that they need to take during a potential crisis scenario. This way, everyone involved can find out what issues might arise during the procedure or the plan, and apply whatever correction necessary. This allows the company to see whether the laid out plans and strategies could work, or if they need adjusting or changing.
Taking these steps as early on as possible is the best way for companies to be fully equipped to handle a PR crisis and come out on the other side with as little harm as possible.
About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.