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Cool, Calm and Collected: Responding to a PR Crisis

When you’re focused on running a business, the saying “all press is good press” couldn’t be more wrong. Unless offending people is on brand, it’s safe to say that doing everything you can to avoid bad press, especially during a PR crisis, is a good idea. Whether it’s a couple of nasty comments on Facebook or a featured article in the newspaper on how your business messed up, negative content can affect your professional reputation. We have comprised a list of ways of how to respond to a PR crisis and bounce back from disruptions like these while maintaining your brand.

Always Have a Plan

A native Floridian living in an area prone to hurricanes always has shutters in his or her garage and an evacuation plan in case of emergency. So should your company. You should always be prepared for the tropical storm that is a PR crisis. Even if you haven’t had any issues yet, always have a plan. Hire a team in advance charged with maintaining good press and responding to negative content. Discuss responses to a bad situation ahead of time. Create statements that are in line with your brand and can be edited to fit a myriad of crises. Stay in constant communication with the team as your company grows and your brand develops. Nothing is certain except change, so you may need to update your strategy over time.

Respond with Sincerity and Strategy

If you do enter a PR crisis, remember to be human; insincerity is both highly detectable and detestable. Take responsibility for your mistake(s). “We apologize for our mistakes,” is a lot better than “we are not responsible,” even if that is the truth. Avoid emotional or delayed responses and act professionally. You must clear anything that can relate back to your business. Inform those at stake by the results of your mistakes like investors or customers. Hold yourself accountable and communicate that you are finding ways to avoid these mistakes in the future. Stick to the plan you created with your PR team and focus on getting through the fire.

Fix the Problem

Listen to your audience and find out what went wrong. Read the comments and strategize how to continue with your work while avoiding negative outcomes. Follow up on the apology with action and show that you are fixing the problem. Appeal to your audiences even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Consumers want to see real people fixing real problems rather than businesses that appear to ignore feedback. Focus on the context of the problem. Instead of changing all your strategies at once, look for overlooked errors, bad judgement calls or genuine mistakes that led to the problem.

Keep Close Tabs on the Situation

Monitor social media backlash. What are people saying and how long have they been talking about it? Depending on the feedback from the media, you may have to apologize and showcase your corrections multiple times. If the press is involved, provide comments; “No comment” shows that you don’t care. Focus on your brand and adapt to the aftermath of the storm. Show your audiences that you made a mistake and you are always willing to do what it takes to fix the problem and move forward. Do not dwell on the bad press, but don’t forget it either. Learn from your mistakes and grow from the situation.

If you aren’t sure your business has the bandwidth or capabilities to handle a serious PR crisis, then it’s smart to outsource it to experts. BrandStar can take control of your message, tell your story and help manage your company’s reputation during a PR storm.


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