Public relations work as an essential asset for a company, mainly due to the rampant use of social media platforms. A company with a firm and proper management does not have to be worried about a PR crisis but must always be prepared for one. At some point or another, most businesses have faced a public relations crisis.
A public relations crisis generally happens after some adverse events take place in a company. These may include bad reviews, a serious scandal, general customer dissatisfaction, or any other such negative incident. This severely compromises the reputation of the company and affects its brand image.
While a public relations crisis is a part of every business that has to deal with customers, it is imperative to be prepared for such challenges and to deal with it effectively as soon as it happens. Seeking advice from an expert or public relations agency would also be a big help in times of crisis.
The Ill Effects of PR Crises
There is no denying that a PR crisis can have severe effects on your company. Even your most loyal customers can isolate you, and your company can face potential loss if not dealt with properly. The most upsetting aspect of a PR crisis is that it severely jeopardize people’s perception of your brand. Clients may not want to interact with a company that they do not trust.
Even if an issue may seem inconsequential at first, if it is not handled properly, it can lead to a severe mishap. For example, when Uber faced hostile work environment charges and sexual harassment, they handled the situation poorly, which led to bigger problems. The company tried to dissuade the case rather than solving the issue, which made people feel negative about the brand.
Handling a PR Crisis
There is no denying that handling a PR crisis is not only challenging but has to be done very smoothly. For this reason, you must always have a team and strategy planned when initiating your business. Some of the most important tactics that you must adopt are as follows:
1. Keep a response team ready:
You must have a crisis response team ready even before the problem hits. Make sure that you appoint the right people in this team to speak properly on behalf of your company. This team should consist of people who have had an association with your company for a long time and are good speakers. The team may consist of in-house personnel who have insight into your company and even external experts who can look at the situation from a media perspective.
2. Gather information about the crisis:
Once you have your response team in place, devise a strategy and divide responsibilities among the team members. You may select a reactive or proactive approach that should be communicated to every team member. Besides, you should be employing this time to gather precise information about the scandal so that you can be ready with the facts.
3. Communicating your message:
Once your team has gathered all the information about the incident, it is time to craft your response. It is vital to be transparent with your audience about the issue so that they can trust you again. Be honest with your audience and try to provide a personal touch to your response. However, from a legal stance, it is sometimes better not to respond to a crisis.
4. Communicate with those affected:
You must then reach out to the people affected by the crisis, such as your customers, stakeholders, and others. It is essential to release your response with a cooperative press contact so that the story can be in your favor. Once you break the news to the media, you should be prepared with a response and a statement because you will inevitably be approached by reporters asking invasive questions about the situation.
5. Keep a close eye on the situation:
It is not likely that the problem will resolve very easily. In an age of the cancel culture, people have strong opinions, and even the tiniest hint of scandal can portray a negative attitude about your brand. Hence you have to keep assessing the situation very closely to maintain your brand image. You must be ready to address the concerns and questions of your customers and answer them as honestly as possible. The phase following a PR crisis is exceptionally brittle, and you must deal with it using utmost care and caution.
While you must be very cautious to stay away from a crisis at all times, it might sometimes seem inevitable. No matter what the case, make sure to prepare a plan of action ready. Take the help of experts, so you don’t have to fend your adversaries without proper guidance.