Halloween special: Tackling a PR crisis

Halloween special: Tackling a PR crisis

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

When a PR crisis looms, it can be quite a scary and spooky time for all. Here are a few pointers of what not to do when you find yourself in that situation.

The zombie – being slow off the mark
As soon as you are made aware of a potential crisis, begin planning straight away. There’s no use waiting until it’s public or you’ll be on the back foot. Every crisis is different so it is important to give yourself enough time to devise the best possible strategy. Are you in crisis mode?

1. Is the effect minimal if no action were taken?
2. Can it be contained internally?
3. Will it affect reputation and profits?
4. Is it out in the media already?
5. Could it undermine day-to-day performance or value of the company?

If it's yes to 3, 4, or 5 - it’s a crisis!

The bat – hiding in the dark
Don’t just hide thinking it will all go away, in a lot of cases this will make it worse. Keeping an ear to the ground and monitoring the media is essential. Take a moment to analyse the situation, look at your options, think of all possible action you could take - and the repercussions of each for your stakeholders – and devise a plan of action. Tell it all, tell it fast and tell it now is the holy mantra against all evil crisis matters.

The gravediggers – digging yourself a hole with the media
Don’t treat the media like an enemy by telling them you won’t talk to them again. Bad mouthing them in public is also a bad idea. In the short term you get an angry reporter, in the long term you’ll have jeopardised a potentially important relationship. Continue to conduct yourself in a calm and professional way putting aside your emotional reaction to the situation. This way you are more likely to better manage the situation.

The hocus pocus - speaking a language no-one understands
React in plain English, using jargon and acronyms will just confuse people further. Ensure you are prepared with agreed language and messages to go out with, keeping your communications succinct and consistent. Effectively handled, this will reassures investors, employees and other stakeholders that the situation is in hand.

This post was written by Charlotte.

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