Effectively Navigating a PR Crisis
From embarrassing executive scandals to a flood of negative reviews, PR crises can take on a variety of forms. Unfortunately, no business is immune to a crisis, and when one strikes, they are oftentimes left in disarray. The compulsion to act—and act quickly—will intensify as the media grows more curious and aggressive.
The first few hours of a crisis are the most consequential, and without a strategy in place, recovery can be difficult. If your business is facing a PR crisis, here are a few ‘best practices’ to implement:
Create a Crisis Management Plan
Since the nature of PR crises are unpredictable, it is crucial for organizations to have a crisis management plan in place, as well as an appointed crisis management team to help navigate the emergency. A seasoned crisis management team will ensure that the right people are speaking on behalf of the company and are executing an approach that is designed to subdue the chaos and restore the organization’s reputation.
It is difficult to foresee the exact trajectory of a crisis; therefore, all parties involved will need to stay on high alert until the situation is resolved. During this time, it is up to the organization and the appointed crisis management team to consider all possibilities and scenarios. Essentially, for every plan of action, there should be a strategic back-up plan at the ready.
Craft Your Response to the Public
Addressing the public and the media is one of the most important elements in navigating a PR crisis. Responding to the public with honesty and transparency (and without shirking blame) is usually the best route to take. Trying to minimize or ‘cover up’ the severity of the crisis will only make it worse.
Take the Boeing 737 Max crisis, for example. After the Lion Air crash, Boeing’s former CEO Dennis Muilenburg continued to insist that the 737 Max was safe for travel:
“We know our airplanes are safe,” he said. “We have not changed our design philosophy.”
After two deadly crashes, it was apparent that these aircraft were far from safe, and Boeing’s lack of transparency in its response to public concern hurt more than it helped. Now, the aerospace company is struggling to regain trust from consumers and partners as they try to recover from this crisis.
Not every crisis is the same, however. It is best for companies to always consult with their crisis management team before taking that critical next step.
Monitor the Situation
With the right strategies in place, the heat from a PR crisis will eventually die down, and organizations will be able to return to their normal day-to-day proceedings. However, it is still important to keep a watchful eye on the media and heed caution when interacting with customers, partners, journalists, etc. Organizations should monitor online review websites, social media platforms, user-generated content and media outlets daily to ensure negative messages are attended to.
Contact us for more information on how Red Banyan helps clients effectively manage a crisis.