Sometimes, despite all efforts to the contrary, even the best managed businesses can be hit by an unexpected public relations crisis. While some may stem from legitimate concerns, such as a product liability issue or an unforeseen accident at a plant, they can also be brought about from less responsible sources.
In either event, the traditional initial reaction from management tends to be some permutation of the following four common, though rarely successful, strategies:
- Stonewall the press,
- Deny everything
- Blame someone else
Worse still, many leaders do and say nothing until it’s far too late and the story has taken on a life of its own. In today’s world of social media and instant reporting, ‘far too late’ can be a matter of mere hours or even minutes. Taking control of the message and leading the process are critical first steps in managing the crisis.
Working closely with our clients and, where appropriate, their PR and legal teams, we help take immediate control of the crisis, minimizing damage and preserving the goodwill of the public.
Our intervention generally takes on one of two forms:
- In meetings with clients, we investigate and explore potential crises that may arise at a future date. Key players are identified, trained and integrated into crisis management teams, along with legal and PR professionals where appropriate.
- Once crisis management objectives are established, we aid clients in crafting strategies to obtain those objectives and design protocols to be put in place to implement those strategies. Having established a framework in which to operate, potential situations are presented to familiarize the team with the execution and potential hurdles that may arise in a ‘live’ situation
- Finally, policy is implemented at all levels of the company ensuring that in the event of a crisis, all information is to flow through the established channels, ensuring a unified, strategic and coherent response right out of the gate.
While it’s always best to have a plan in place, a crisis is no time to be thinking about what one should have done to prepare, it’s time to act. Making us the first call allows us help clients:
- Analyze the crisis and engage appropriate experts, PR professionals and legal teams
- Identify affected parties while guarding against opportunists
- Develop a coherent response strategy, assigning clear roles to key players
- Identify and empower spokespeople and advocates for the client
- Craft and control the message
- Adjust to the rapidly changing landscape
While we share in the hope that our clients won’t find themselves in a position to have to confront these situations, we help make sure they’re prepared for the eventuality, and remain available in the event the unthinkable should happen. Crisis management is a complicated, delicate and high stakes endeavor, and we encourage executives to be pro-active and fully prepared. When that’s not possible, help is a phone call away.