A confidential-information e-mail reaching journalists` inboxes, a negative video on the company becoming viral on social networks, or the client making an inappropriate statement at the wrong time, all this can become a PR-crisis situation. It is true, some at a smaller scale, but if they are not identified and solved in due time, they may led to serious loss of credibility. They are all crisis situations, and any organization is vulnerable to them.
But let’s start from the beginning.
What is a PR crisis? Any situation that is a threat to the company and may negatively impact its reputation.
How do you translate that? Crisis is in fact an unpleasant surprise and which requires a very short time to answer. And some people mistake short time to lack of time, therefore panicking. Which is the greatest enemy of crisis-situation PR!
First and foremost, in such a moment, one must keep cool, assess the situation and then… call a LAWYER. Makes sense, right? A reaction without proper gathering of information may rise the crisis level and may even incite, in a snowball effect, other larger crisis situations!
Some experts say that in a company, a special team is necessary in order to communicate in a crisis, some sort of task-force. If there is no such team, again, keep your cool (you did not expect this recommendation, right?! :)), good communication between all the company departments is sufficient, from all PR members, and depending on the situation, Social Media (if the two departments are separate), up to Costumer Care, HR and as I previously mentioned, Legal Department. You must set up a communication strategy together and apply it together. Or apply it yourself if you are lucky enough to be `home alone` :).
Back to our steps, the small `crisis manual` says that from PR, you must turn to detective-work, investigate what happened, what was the cause, get to know all angles of the situation, evaluate the potential impact the crisis may have on the company.
All this time, everything needs to be monitored: social networks, media, and the competition’s communication. Each new piece of information, each new text written about the company’s problem must reach your inbox. Only then will you realize whether it’s truly a huge crisis situation. After gathering all this data, you may pen down the official stance of the company you represent.
It’s very important to appropriately choose the channel via which you wish to send the company’s message, so that it reaches as many people as possible. Feel free to use anything you think is useful: blog, website, social networks, media coverage, NASA, alien communication, etc. In the end, after a reaction is sent out, it’s necessary (surprise surprise! ) to monitor reactions again, and manage them with speedy replies.
No matter the outcome of such crisis, the moment where you draw a line, no matter how cynical you are, I assure you something positive will be left behind: you learned something new, about the team and about your clients as well.
So, cheer up, anyway you put it, it will all turn out ok…or not?! :))