Most companies don’t expect to have to deal with a public relations crisis. Whether that mindset is borne out of some consideration of the odds against it or a naive belief that their company will never be involved with undesirable news - many fail to prepare.
A public relation crisis can take many different forms and could be triggered by no fault of your business. You could become enmeshed in a crisis simply by providing services to a person that attracts intense media attention or being in the same industry as another company that’s being investigated. Or it could be a misinterpretation of a social media post or ad or negative news released about your company.
No one can predict the timing of a crisis. If your communication with the public and media is poorly handled, the potential for damage to your company’s reputation, employees’ well-being and customer loyalty is immense. That’s why it is important to have a crisis communication and management plan in place beforehand, so that you can to effectively manage any PR situation.
There are many advantages of having a crisis communication plan during a crisis. One being that the company will be prepared to give a timely response after the event has occurred. Businesses who prepare will have the peace of mind knowing that their advance planning will empower employees to navigate any situation. Having an effective crisis plan may also shorten the life of the crisis, as well as minimize downtime needed to deal with the issue.
Creating the plan is the first, but a critical part of a successful strategy is effectively communicating it beforehand among all parties. First and foremost, the management team and all employees must be informed and properly trained on the plan. This should include media training on proper ways of handling media inquiries and interviews. When the incident occurs, it is crucial to have planned out how the company’s responses will be communicated to each affected stakeholder.
There are many elements that go into developing a crisis communication plan. It might include identifying potential crisis situations, training for the incident and preparing possible responses. Although each plan is unique, it is an important business safeguard to develop. The task of establishing a crisis communication plan can be challenging, consult with a public relations professional for guidance.