What is the most challenging situation an organization can find itself in? A public relations crisis. Yet, it’s almost inevitable. Anyone or organization who’s always in the public eye may, at one time or another, find himself in a challenging situation that may put the image of the organization on the line. That is why it is important to learn how to handle a PR crisis, even if your organization has never faced such a challenge.
A PR crisis happens when an event or action causes public backlash or a negative reaction towards an organization. It could be anything from a misrepresentation of information to identifying with certain ideologies or even selling substandard products or services. Anything that stirs up a reaction from the public and starts a negative conversation about your organization is a PR crisis.
A PR crisis can be very detrimental to your reputation and existence as an organization. A negative perception of an organization by its public has long-lasting effects if not handled properly and swiftly. You do not want all the years you spent building your brand and customer base all go down in a short amount of time.
Five Ways to Manage A PR Crisis
1.Take Responsibility: Solving a PR crisis may start with acknowledging it to your public. Don’t try to evade it; manage it appropriately. If you keep quiet about it, it could cause more damage. Responding to the challenge gives the public a sense of calmness, especially if you’re dealing with, for example, bad products or service delivery. So, take ownership of the situation and take things from there.
2.Understand the Situation: While it’s important to be proactive and take responsibility, don’t go overboard by delivering too much information. In an era of mass social media usage, it is good to use media monitoring and social listening to keep track of online conversations around your organization and other organisations in the same sector or industry and know how to deal with situations as they arise.
You can have your communication department provide an initial statement while you take the time to better comprehend the situation and respond appropriately. Understand what individuals are worried about, create meaninful ideas, and then draft a response.
Understand people’s concerns, think through situations and come up with solutions, and then prepare a response. This doesn’t mean that you go completely missing in action, as that would hint that you have something to hide. While silence may be a PR tool, it can sometimes be dangerous to use. . In the case of a PR crisis, things can escalate very quickly if you allow the media and your public to make their own assumptions and interpretations. That’s why the most important way to handle a PR crisis is to get ahead of the story before it spreads widely; this will help control the damage.Employ the services of a Public Relations firm if you think you need one to come onboard,a public relations firm will design a strategic communication plan with your team and then design your messages . Give a quick and early response to control the situation. Press releases and conferences come in handy in times like this.
3.Respond, Calmly! Respond to the situation and try as much as possible not to sound shaken; be confident. You should respond to the situation with a complete understanding of it instead of reacting impulsively. Your publics needs to see you through the lens of a confident organization. When faced with a PR issue, severe social media criticism is common. It’s not easy to respond to all the questions and query, when you’re the subject of everyone’s rage but stay calm!.
4.Apologize and Take Corrective Action: In some cases, a PR crisis arises as a result of a mistake on your part as an organization; this could arise from bad product sales or even as little as dissatisfaction in customer service delivery. So, the best way to handle a PR crisis is to apologize and inform people about what you’re going to do about the situation. Let them know if you are going to, for example, provide compensation.
Your reputation is key to the success of your business, it is the main driver that determines whether your business is going to stay in business or fold up.
5. Learn and Move on! :
Conduct a post-action review as soon as the crisis is over.Look at how well your team handled the situation. Draw a list of what could have been improved upon and what modifications must be made to prevent a similar situation.
An organization must focus on regaining its credibility after a crisis. Change the topic of discussion to good company news.Remember to stay optimistic in the face of challenges as they come.