We have all heard the saying before “All press is good press” and trust me when I say all PR people want to smack the person who said it. It’s simply not true for the majority of people. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule (Kanye gets richer every time he says something crazy)! But for all of who aren’t on Kanye’s level a controversial statement, a bad review, saying something that was completely misunderstood can be detrimental to the reputation of your brand.
So what do you do when bad press is tainting your reputation? Kick it into Crisis PR Mode. There are 10 steps in crisis PR.
1. Who’s on your team?
Your crisis communications team should be filled with the big bosses, the people who make top decisions in the company/brand. You need your CEO, your executives, and your legal representatives. Now if you’re a smaller business or maybe you just don’t have all of the team members you need, you can always hire a Crisis Comm agency to help you through.
2. Who’s speaking for you?
Now that you have your Crisis Comm team you need to figure out who is going to speak on your behalf. This person needs to be honest and understand when to be firm and when it’s ok to relax a bit. From an audience of 10,000 to a one-on-one interview this person can absolutely not buckle under pressure. Now that we are in the digital age this person also needs to be tech savvy. They are going to have to get on social media networks and advocate on your behalf. It is important that they are on the inside and have knowledge of what’s happening to be able to thoroughly go to bat for your reputation.
3. Do they know what to say?
This person may need a little training in order to be prepared to respond in a way that sheds a favorable light. They need to understand body language, the tone of voice, etc. They must also be well versed on all things pertaining to your company/brand because the world is ruthless and they ask all types of questions.
4. Plan for the Crisis that you hope never happens
I think we can all agree we would rather not have something terrible blow up in our face but stuff happens and not having a plan in place is a sure fire way to have the situation blow up in your face. What are your objectives?
5. How do you know you’re in a crisis?
TURN ON GOOGLE ALERTS! You need to know the moment someone is talking about your company/brand so that you can assess the situation and see if it’s something that needs to be addressed. Your phone buzzing on social media can only mean two things you’ve gone viral in a good way or a bad way!
6. Who can vouch for you?
At the end of the day you can talk until you’re blue in the face but unless you have others advocating on your behalf it’s just your word against the rest of the world. Identify those people who are stakeholders both in and out of company/brand.
7. What can you say immediately?
A holding statement is a statement that you put out before the official statement on the crisis. This statement is to let people know that you are not ignoring the crisis but you aren’t officially prepared to address it properly. Let the people know that you will provide them with additional information soon.
8. How bad is it?
You need need need need need need to make sure you don’t make something bigger than it is. You need to thoroughly know what constitutes as a CRISIS vs a small situation that needs to be addressed. Assessing the situation allows you to be able to respond appropriately.
9. What’s your final say?
Because of your prior planning, you have already put out a holding message but now you need to put out your full statement. What are you actually going to say that fully addresses the situation that not only address you stakeholders but also the audience?
10. How well did this work for you?
After the crisis has been dealt with you need to get all those involved into the boardroom and ask them these important questions.
“What did we learn from this crisis?” What went wrong, what did we do well, how did our stakeholders and audience respond? What can we do to avoid this from happening again? These are all important and necessary questions to help you perfect your crisis comm plan and prepare for the next crisis that we pray never happens.
If you encounter bad press the best thing to do is to be prepared to address it. If you don’t have a crisis comm plan ready to put in action get with your board quick! You never know when things are going to hit the fan!