8 Steps PR Pros Must Take When a Crisis Breaks

By Nonprofit Marketing ArizonaOctober 10, 2017

A PR crisis can spread in a variety of ways today especially on TV, online and through social media that will impact your brand forever. How fast you respond is critical. Without giving you a lecture, but when things are calm I strongly hope you are establishing your brand mission, attributes, and creating goodwill in the industry and community you serve on a consistent basis. That goodwill is the currency you will need during a rough patch, starting with your employees, customers, vendors and the public. When it comes to a crisis here are my recommendations:

  • You must have an official spokesperson that handles the media. In a perfect world, they have been trained. No lawyers. No men CEO with a suit coat on...roll up your sleeves. Ladie CEO’s are usually well dressed which is fine.
  • Be accountable. You can't take a stand that the issue is unfair or not your fault or blame others. If you indicate you feel no responsibility, deflect or provide bs answers things can escalate and become a worse PR issue.
  • Empathy is vital during an apology or describing the tough situation...it must be real. If people and or property were affected you must start there...
  • Never say "No Comment". It will look like your hiding from the subject. No fancy language...down to earth. 
  • State you are investigating the situation, getting more facts and will work with a team to determine how to fix the problem or processes...to avoid it happening again.
  • Your best ambassadors are your employees and customers. Communicate consistently and make sure you are transparent. Assume what ever you say will be repeated internally and externally.
  • Deploy reputation management in your activities - Keep track of media coverage, articles, bloggers, social media, reviews, discussion boards- both good and bad...reach out to those who need the right information or follow up with them as to your progress. Do NOT debate the scenario and prolong it.
  • Media cycles are shorter than ever but memories last forever. Handle this crisis situation with a pre discussed strategy so you are not running scared when something happens.

Written by Al Maag:

Publisher of Giving Hope AZ Newsletter and retired Cheif Communications Officer at Avnet.