Welcome To The PR Crisis Management Guide.
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Eventually, every business should be well prepared for the public relations crisis at least once in their entrepreneurial journey. Because it’s inevitable. Unless you have managed your online reputation so efficiently that others can’t make an impact on it.
But that’s rare!
So, you must be thinking only about the negative press releases when hearing about the PR crisis, right?
Well, it’s not. PR crisis also includes data breach, negative reviews, executive scandal, failed event, and badly planned campaign that may tarnish your company’s reputation completely. In fact, it happens to almost every company at least once.
So, what will you do in such panicking situations?
This must be the most awkward moment when every operation of your business will come to a standstill mode as you don’t realize what to do next. If you can relate yourself to the above-mentioned scenarios, this blog is for you. We will discuss every minute of steps that you need to take in order to manage your PR and bring it back on the wheel.
So, let’s first understand what exactly a PR crisis is. Right? Because a lot of you may still have confusions about the PR Crisis. So, let’s get started without any further ado,
What Exactly Is A PR Crisis?
When an organization receives humiliating, negative, and damaging reviews or press coverage due to certain reasons, it’s called the PR Crisis.
These are real issues that need to be fixed ASAP to save your company’s reputation. Otherwise, it may do a lot of irreparable damages in the future. The impact can be disruptive in some cases where the preventive measures were not taken by the company.
Since the popularity of social media is rising, this makes the PR crisis spread globally within a finger’s snap.
That’s the reason why you should stop this crisis from becoming viral. For instance, when Taco Bell underestimated the strength of social media and a video was posted where an employee of theirs called the police while a deaf man tried to order his food at a drive-thru.
You will be amazed to check the sentiment analysis when the video got viral. Let’s take a look by yourself,
This can be disruptive for brands especially if the brand doesn’t have a strong presence online. So, it’s important to prepare a PR crisis management plan in order to avoid such unfavorable scenarios in the future.
However, a crisis isn’t always serious. It has three different levels and you should understand which of these levels demand action from your end. Unfortunately, a lot of people are unaware of these facts and tend to react early than respond which further tarnishes their reputation. So, let’s take a look at the different levels of PR crisis and when it demands action.
The Levels Of PR Crisis
You may think of a PR crisis management plan right after a negative review hits you. But, a crisis isn’t called a serious crisis unless it hits a certain level.
A negative review, a mocking post, a video, these aren’t always a crisis. It’s important to check who’s talking negatively about your brand. Is it the consumers? Or is it a random person who isn’t included in your target group?
If your consumers are having negative emotions about your brand, then it’s harmful and it demands action. Still, there are certain levels that you should be aware of while planning for some actionable PR crisis management plan. Let’s take a look at these levels,
- 1 Level: To first level of the PR crisis is always less scary. It has the potential to turn disruptive but your brand can easily save its reputation with some preventive measures. You will typically face a bunch of negative media mentions on your brand across the social media, press, news channels, radio, tv, etc. This can be mitigated simply with an apology letter.
- 2 Level: To second level is the situation that can be escalated into a disaster if there are no preventive measures taken. This is the situation when customers start complaining and criticizing your brand.
- 3 Level: To third level demands serious action. Otherwise, it can instantly be escalated to a major PR crisis before you know it. So, it’s important to have an expert reputation manager by your side at this time to help you fight for your company’s reputation.
How Will You Deal With A PR Crisis?
When your brand hits a PR crisis, there’s a strategic process to deal with this – i.e; PR Crisis Management. With a strategic plan in place, you will not only save your time but also save the reputation of your company as well. So, let’s jump into the actionable steps that you must take when your brand hits a PR crisis.
Avoid Any Social Media Blunders
Social media blunders can seriously impact your brand’s reputation especially when your brand hits a PR crisis. So, you should better schedule the content for social media in order to make things easier.
Social media can be used as either a boon or a bane depending upon your perspective. If you’re using social media to let people know about the latest updates on your brand, then it can help you recover your PR crisis over time. So, don’t lose your cool while dealing with a PR crisis and make blunders on social media.
Create A Team To Handle The Situation
You should have a crisis response team prepared and well trained to deal with the most horrific situations. So, from the initial stage, you should consider preparing a team to manage your PR crisis. Thinking you can deal with the situation without a trained team is a waste of time only.
So, prepare your response team and make it diverse. Generally, the CEO of the brand should lead the crisis team along with the head of PR and legal. Depending upon the type of crisis, you should prepare the team to manage diverse situations.
Devise A Crisis Management Strategy
Having a PR crisis management strategy in place is extremely crucial when it comes to dealing with a PR crisis. Also, the strategy must be elaborated properly to the crisis response team. The company must trust the people can talk on behalf of them. This means all employees, board members, and stakeholders must be aware when a crisis hits a brand.
Also, make your PR crisis management strategy diverse. Without having a diverse plan to manage your crisis, the situation can become worse. A diverse team will provide different perspectives, for instance, what if the brand messages are misinterpreted? Or what if these messages fueled the fire in the situation? A diverse team will always prepare a strategy to cover all these situations.
Craft A Solid Message
Nothing can be more ideal than crafting the most perfect message when it needs the most. Once you gather all the facts about the situation when your brand hit a PR crisis, you should provide full independence to the crisis response team to craft a solid message.
It’s important to be as transparent as possible while addressing the situation and what your brand has done without blaming anyone in particular. After all, your audience wants honesty from you. If your brand has done anything wrong unintentionally, it’s better to apologize for the mistake and make an amendment. The sooner you will apologize the quicker people can forgive you.
Address The People Who’re Affected
When your brand hits a PR crisis, a lot of people can be affected due to the situation. It’s important to address the people who’re getting affected by the situation including the employees, customers, stakeholders, media, and business partners.
Regardless of which parties are receiving your message, you should always prepare a perfectly crafted message and send it in a timely manner.
Keep Your Brand Reputation Monitored
You must keep your brand reputation in check to identify the situations when things went wrong so that you can respond better next time. There are a few platforms where you must monitor the sentiment on a regular basis. These include social media, review sites, influencers, employees, press, competitors, and others.
Also, prepare a social listing strategy as it can mitigate the problem at times when negativity speaks. Sometimes, the influencers can also be your knight in a worst-case scenario. A lot of you may think influencers are only useful for marketing campaigns but they can easily sway public opinion and help a brand grow in this time.
Review The Situations & Learn From It
You can conduct a thorough analysis of the entire situation to review when your brands took the wrong steps, what fueled the situations, when things took a wrong turn, etc. These can provide a detailed understanding of the situation.
A PR crisis can seriously impact the entire reputation of the brand. Even if your brand has no fault in the situation, still an opposing party can make completely false allegations and make your brand suffer unless you apply a rock-solid crisis management plan.
Handling the PR is about the right timing. You can’t give a premature response and you can’t give a postmature response, else it will ruin your brand’s reputation. So, managing a PR crisis requires an expert’s attention. So, it’s better to hire an expert reputation management agency to handle the situation with ease without causing any further damages.
If the above guide has helped you to handle and overcome your PR crisis, don’t forget to let us know your experiences.