The very nature of a public relations crisis is that it strikes without warning, many times when you least expect it. The way in which you respond to that PR crisis usually depends on your level of preparedness. The companies with the best crisis management processes and responses are generally those who have a solid plan ahead of time. To learn how best to prepare for that crisis when it comes, we have shared the following dos and don’ts of crisis management planning:
Do identify your weaknesses
Nearly every organization will have weaknesses that, when presented in an unfavorable light to the public, could result in a PR crisis. Understanding those weaknesses, whether they are manufacturing factory emissions or a team member with questionable extracurricular activities, is the first step in ensuring you’re prepared for a crisis when it hits.
Do cultivate a library of positive stories
One of the best ways to respond to negative stories about your company, your culture or your team is to have a library of positive stories in your back pocket. For example, if your team has been publicly accused of gender inequity, it would be helpful to be able to point to a handful of public stories about ways in which the organization has promoted and supported female employees.
Do prepare your spokesperson
In a crisis, the public should hear from a single voice representing the company or organization. That person should generally be someone employed by the company in question and should be someone in a senior position. You’ll want to make sure that person is prepared and accustomed to speaking with the media before a crisis hits.
Don’t get caught off guard
Ideally, you should know that a PR crisis is about to hit your company prior to receiving a call from a reporter. Part of identifying your weaknesses is to ensure you are monitoring public responses to those weaknesses so you don’t get caught off guard. For example, if you know your neighbors are discussing a high level of truck traffic outside your organization on social media, you should monitor that discussion where possible so you know what’s coming.
Don’t forget about your stakeholders
In any crisis, it is vital that you keep your stakeholders – both internal and external – informed and up-to-date on the situation. Identifying these key stakeholders ahead of time will save you valuable time and resources that could better be used elsewhere on the day a crisis hits.
When you see your company’s name splashed across the front page of a statewide publication, your first reaction may be to panic, but if you’ve done your prep work ahead of time, there should be no need to panic. You have already done half the crisis management planning ahead of time! If the sight of your organization’s name on the 5 o’clock news still brings fear, don’t hesitate to reach out to our crisis communications experts. Our team is always willing to support your crisis management preparation or response any time, day or night.