You might think your organization is unsinkable. You’re profiting, gaining leads and customers, and on track for continued and sustained success. Then, it happens…a crisis. Your organization’s reputation is suddenly vulnerable, and you need to focus your efforts on image restoration rather than completing your usual day-to-day tasks and catering to your stakeholders needs. You need a crisis PR plan.
An organizational crisis can include anything ranging from a data breach, personnel scandal, a catastrophe like mechanical failure resulting in injury, or a natural disaster, like an earthquake or tornado. And while not all problems are crises, all crises are problems, so it’s crucial to develop a crisis PR strategy to overcome these situations, whether you’re a startup or an established industry stalwart.
Despite common belief, no company is immune from crises, but there are several steps you can take to mitigate their impact if one were to occur:
Identify your weaknesses
Communicating with your executive team and stakeholders are a great start to identifying potential weaknesses you company might experience a crisis from. If you live in an area prone to tornadoes or hurricanes, ensure your files are stored digitally (backed up to a cloud), or somewhere safe and secure ahead of a storm. If your organization has personal information about customers or stakeholders, ensure your security is strong enough to withstand an attempted data breach or hack.
It’s also important to consider internal crises. What happens when an employee posts defaming comments about your organization (or someone else) on social media or one of your company executives is exposed for discrimination or harassment? Taking the time to consider these scenarios and preparing a plan of action for each circumstance are the first step your organization needs to consider in order to successfully overcome a crisis situation.
The worst time to start thinking about how to respond to a crisis is when it’s actually happening. Taking the time to thoroughly develop a crisis management plan is essential in any crisis preparation process and should be an exercise that is always evolving over the life of your business. Creating objectives, strategies and tactics helps hold your organization accountable, and provides curated, prepared statements to implement in times of crisis. Consulting with an experienced public relations team can solidify both your planning but also your real-time response should your business need to address any issue publicly.
Beef up your media relations efforts
We’ve all heard the adage “the internet never forgets” but that does not mean your public reputation will be forever tarnished. In today’s 24/7 digital news cycle, many scandals or viral moments pass within a few days or weeks – especially if the company involved addresses and handles the issue the right way. What follows is an effort to rebuild the company’s image in the public eye, which can be achieved through proactive media relations efforts that both highlight positive company initiatives and push negative stories down in search results.
With a plan in place and a proactive approach if/when a crisis occurs, businesses can come out stronger on the other side. If you’re interested in learning more about PR strategies and other media relations efforts, feel free to drop us a line.