Today’s news cycle is measured in seconds (on a slow day!), and rumors can snowball into a perfect storm. No one wakes up wishing for a PR crisis, but when it hits, it’s imperative to gather your team, follow your crisis plan, think ahead, and set the tone and direction of your response.
At Promova, we have worked with clients on various issues like IPO’s, litigation, high-profile executive scandals, data breaches, and more. We have helped clients ensure accurate press coverage and take control of the story rather than be victim to it. The more prepared you are, the better the outcome. Here are six steps to take in the first 72 hours of a PR crisis to ensure success.
Follow Your Crisis Plan
If you have spent some time being proactive, pat yourself on the back. When a crisis strikes, the first step is to call an internal meeting with key employees identified in your plan to ensure that the chain of command is aware of the crisis and can immediately assess the damage. Each team member must understand the complete picture of the situation and the assigned next steps to move forward –hopefully all identified in your plan.
Stick to Honesty
Honesty is the best policy. It is essential to approach the situation with honest, genuine, and authentic communication. These qualities help form trust-based relationships with those involved and affected by the crisis. Sincere communication reminds the public of your authenticity, which goes a long way in tackling and recovering from a problem. Even if you are unsure of what happened, it is okay to say, “we don’t know the answer to this yet, but we are investigating it and will get back to you in the next couple of hours.” If you choose to sweep it under the rug or say, “no comment,” that pretty much says you are guilty. If you are fortunate to have precleared facts, you can provide those and any other information as appropriate.
Identify Your Spokesperson
Before approaching the media to address the crisis, you must carefully consider who will respond on your behalf. Your spokesperson is a crucial component in your success, as they are the face the public sees and associates with the organization. It’s not always the president of the company. At Promova, we help assess who your spokesperson should be and help prepare them to address the crisis with the media. This person needs to be media savvy, quick on their feet, and be comfortable in this environment. When you consider who to select, you should choose someone who can remain calm and empathetic during hostile and emotional situations.
A crisis is a time-sensitive matter, and it is vital to get ahead of the negative information that the media will release. It is no secret that bad news travels fast; however, an immediate response helps mitigate damage to your company’s reputation. A prompt response grants you leverage on the crisis. You also gain control of the narrative and begin to resolve the situation.
Stick to Your Talking Points
A crisis is a high-pressure and challenging situation, but there are ways to alleviate stress when responding to the crisis. Define talking points in advance and practice various scenarios to help you respond effectively under duress. Having a clear understanding of the points you need to make is helpful for the media. You achieve control over the crisis when you stick to the pre-established talking points and are at less risk of being caught off guard in any situation. Practice makes perfect, so review your talking points before any public communication to ensure that you have a deep understanding and fluency in what needs to be said to address the crisis. By having these talking points, you will be able to stand your ground in these high-stakes situations.
Protect Your Most Critical Asset- Your Reputation
The most significant factor in any crisis is upholding your reputation. It can take years to build your image, and it is critical to protect it with the correct response. How and when you respond is of utmost importance, and at Promova, we put our clients first. We understand the gravity of your reputation and, through working with you, can promptly combat any crisis through successful responses. You have the power to protect your reputation and tackle any problem; all you need is the right team to help you with your answer.