Mike Paffman, CEO, Virgo PR
It’s challenging to navigate through a PR crisis, but there are certain steps that companies can take to make things easier during the recovery period. Being on the receiving end of bad PR can happen to anyone, but the way that a company responds to the situation can quickly determine the outcome of the situation’s impact in terms of the company’s reputation.
Bad situations are easy to get into, and no one is safe at the end of the day, but understanding how to handle these types of problems, whether it’s a negative review, or an accident, or something else, is the difference between businesses that can survive the storm and those that get lost in the chaos.
PR crises are important because a single negative situation can damage a company’s reputation in the eyes of its customers, and although companies can’t really control the outcome of a crisis, there are certain useful strategies that they can implement to mitigate any damage.
Although the effect of a PR crisis on a business might seem intangible in the beginning, these situations greatly impact companies in the long run, because most customers prefer interacting with companies they trust. When a company is caught up in a PR crisis, that trust can be damaged, and while in the beginning, the situation can seem small, if not handled the right way, it can quickly snowball into a big issue.
A great example of this is the situation with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, as the beginning of it was small, but in the end, this PR crisis changed the way that a lot of people saw the social media platform. Plenty of people are still using the platform to this day, but with young people specifically, it’s no longer a major platform that dominates their social media use.
That’s why businesses should have a PR crisis team in place that’s going to create a response plan for a PR crisis. The team should be created long before any situation happens, as the people in the team will be working on ways that the company can respond and react in different crisis scenarios.
Companies should also have a response team during a crisis, that ensures all the right people will be speaking to the public and media outlets on behalf of the business.
The crisis PR team creates a response protocol for a crisis so that the response team will know whether it should be taking a reactive or a proactive approach when communicating with the public. Additionally, all the employees, executives, and stakeholders should be informed on who will be a part of the response team, in case the media starts directing questions to people who are unprepared to face reporters or the public.
The official company representatives should also craft the response message in a delicate manner. They should be transparent with the audience, take responsibility, and announce the steps that the company will be taking to avoid similar situations from happening in the future.