In the 20th century, there was a 24-hour news cycle. If a PR crisis emerged, you had hours to develop an effective press release and a strategy to cope with media backlash. In the 21st century, there is a nanosecond news cycle.
All the luxuries of distance between the time of your crisis and the publication of the morning papers have disappeared. Every owner of a smartphone has now become a citizen journalist, and with the advent of this new technology, PR experts need to implement new tactics in order to prevent PR disasters.
Here at MediaHQ, we frequently witness companies dealing with PR challenges, and we have devised the first five steps which PR pros need to take when dealing with a crisis.
Release a holding statement
The nanosecond news cycle doesn’t give you enough time to think once a crisis breaks. Therefore, in order to craft an effective PR strategy, you should buy yourself time with a holding statement. This is a broad statement which you have prepared in advance that can cover a wide array of potential incidents. A good holding statement will be long enough to satisfy the public for a few hours, while also not being so specific as to allow for the possibility of getting things wrong.
Listen to your team
The fact that it is your company which is under attack can cloud your judgement when trying to formulate a response to a crisis. To ensure that you aren’t issuing an angry, defensive press release, make sure to confer with your team about your strategy. The consensus of a committee will usually be more rational and concise than the opinions of one person, even when it comes to PR experts.
Provide media training
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and those who are trying to discover the latest news about your crisis will often try to reach out to a low-level member of staff who could accidentally leak a crucial piece of information. To prevent this, regular media training with your staff will keep them aware of how to deal with journalists and make them valuable assets instead of potential liabilities in a crisis.
When your main press release is finally released, try to be as honest as possible. People will automatically assume that you’re spinning the story, so if you manage to come off as genuine, it will reap greater rewards than attempting some disingenuous spin. Not only will transparency help your reputation as a company, but it will also make it harder for journalists to fan the flames of your crisis.
Make a preemptive strike
If you know that a development in your company will become a PR issue in the near future, don’t wait for an external actor to break the story, announce it yourself. This will give yourself much more time to deal with a crisis, and also make yourself seem more genuine. However, if taking this approach, it must be more likely than not that the story will eventually break. Otherwise, you will have just unleashed a PR crisis upon your company, which was entirely of your own making.
Here at MediaHQ, we pride ourselves in always looking out for our clients in any situation, even a PR crisis. Looking for more information click here or call Gaye on (01) 2541845 to find out more.