Some things in life are predictable. Like the sun coming up every morning, you just know there’s going to be a public relations crisis sooner or later. Here’s my 10 PR crisis predictions for 2012 along with some helpful tips and Do’s and Don’ts.
These are only 10, there are obviously countless others but c’mon, you know there’s is going to be buzzing about…
- Another very religious politician getting tripped up in a sex scandal.
- One of 2011’s hottest new social media apps “jumping the shark” and becoming stale as old beer.
- What? A service charge for that !@#!
- A giant security breach occurring because an employee loses or misplaces a laptop.
- In a bold slap in the face to tax payers, government employees in X or Y major city abusing their parking and travel expense privileges.
- He’s a great athlete but a bad husband/dad/pet owner.
- A major toy maker/auto maker/appliance maker recalling products due to safety issues. Pundits insisting they should have known better.
- What? His bonus was that BIG even though the company lost money?
- Kanye, Lindsey, Charlie and/or Whitney in trouble again!
- What? She was so (uniformed/insensitive/inappropriate) to tweet THAT?
Obviously each of the above issue poses a different set of challenges to brand managers. If that politician referenced in #1 has nothing to do with your particular brand or company, what do you care?
But if that toy referenced in #7 is your best seller, well that of course is another story.
And in today’s digital, real-time, news-in-a-flash on any number of devices, hand-held-or-otherwise world we find ourselves in, companies and brands need to be at the ready to deal with a public relations crisis head on.
Engagement Is Key
The need to engage your customer, prospects and constituencies is even more paramount during a PR crisis because effective and transparent communications coupled with a solid plan can make all of the difference in terms of the positive or negative impact on a brand… be it a business, a celebrity or a politician.
The Do’s and the Don’ts
Here are the three things you MUST do in a crisis situation …
- Be proactive and assertive. Gather all of the facts, agree to a communications strategy along with key messages and then take control of the presentation of these message as much as possible.
- Set up a communications chain of command. Agree to who will be delivering the message and get everyone involved to follow this protocol.
- Continuously access the effectiveness and appropriateness of messaging based on new information, reactions of key audiences, feedback from direct and on-line channels.
Here are three things you should NOT do …
- Hide or bury the truth. It always comes out — particularly now in the 24/7 on-line news world where traditional and citizen journalists, citizen journalists, bloggers and pundits are all “reporting.”
- Try to fake it, guess or speculate. Analyze the crisis issue, develop your response and stick to key messages and facts.
- Belabor the issue. The goal of effective crisis communications is to get your position across in a fast, effective and direct manner so that the world and the public hopefully moves on to other concerns.