Hopefully you will successfully manage to steer yourself away from any Crisis situation for you or your business.
However, if you are misfortunate and some Crisis situation occurs that is going to lead to quite negative publicity then we would recommend that you approach it with a really positive frame of mind – I know, this seems unusual and under the circumstances it may seem impossible to do, but ..
You must manage your reputation at all times, even in a crisis – this is Crisis PR
Our positive Crisis PR approach in these situations is to:
1. Accept that what has happened has happened – you probably can’t change this but you can change what you do and how you behave from here on in. This will influence how people will view you and the situation.
2. Get all the facts, 100% with as much clarity as possible – capture this in writing and share it with everyone involved.
3. Don’t ignore the media – get someone (a PR company is normally used to doing this) to field all calls, taking their details and assuring them that you will get back to them with a statement. “No comment” is a wasted opportunity to give your side of the story.
Your voice and your message are so important.
4. Concentrate on the message – with someone else fielding your calls you can concentrate on getting your message right. We would advise doing this with the assistance of an outside source who can bring objectivity to the issue – a PR company used to dealing with the media and crisis situations would be recommended.
5. Be honest – the very worst thing is to get caught out with misinformation. Be sure of every thing you are saying. If unsure of anything don’t comment on it until you are sure. If you get caught out all credibility is lost.
6. Written statement – once you have your message agreed capture this in a written statement, which can be issued to press. With a written statement you are totally limiting the chance of being misinterpreted.
7. Don’t talk to press – When we say this we mean at least not until you are ready to. In a “crisis” situation people can be very upset and may be unable to actually “talk”. Written statements should suffice until you are ready to talk. When you are ready to talk be clear about your key messages, write them down and rehearse them. A little role play beforehand is a good idea and will help in getting this right and avoiding little traps.
8. The Press want a story, help to write it – even in a crisis you can leverage the situation and include positive messages and initiatives about you and your business. The crisis may be awful but when there is an appetite for a story we would advise taking this opportunity and using it to “sell” some positives. This could include changes that are being implemented as a result of the crisis or even previous success stories or investments that the business has made. Paint as positive a picture as possible. The media are competing for stories and will be delighted to get a different angle on the situation – this could be a positive angle.
9. The story has a shelf life – all stories have a shelf life and will eventually be replaced by other stories. Recognise this shelf life and use this period to include those positive initiatives and actions in your statements. When the shelf life has expired it may be impossible to communicate the positives – the media will have lost interest and your opportunity could be gone.
10. Measure the temperature – during the immediate post crisis period carefully measure the press coverage about the crisis and also use online tools to capture what is being said by people generally. Gauging the temperature correctly can influence the content and timing of statements and positively contribute to the success of your “Crisis PR” campaign.
11. The Legal advice – The legal guys have their job to do and we have ours. By all means the two need to work closely together but this can only happen with a practical understanding of each others objectives.
Some of the legal guys will advise “no comment” – this could be safe legal advice but not good business or good reputation advice – know and understand the difference.
All press is good press? – we wouldn’t go along with that idea but we do advise staying calm, dealing with a crisis positively and making the very most out of a bad situation.
A vital step is to bring in outside professional help to assist with this process as early as possible.