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Golden Rules of PR Crisis Control Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Golden Rules of PR Crisis Control

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Any business, at one point, will face some sort of a public relations crisis and the way you respond can either give you a much-n­eeded image boost or signif­icantly damage your brand, ultimately alienating your customer base and business partners. Especially in this day and age, when news goes viral almost instantly, organi­zations need to be ready to respond to any PR crisis quickly and effici­ently, using all available platforms.

1. Take Respon­sib­ility

First off, don’t try to cover up the PR crisis, it will only worsen the damage. Instead, manage the situation by taking respon­sib­ility, reacting immedi­ately, and responding to feedback. Instead of arguing publicly, acknow­ledge people’s concerns and questions and respond to the right conver­sat­ions. Write a press release and post on social media to control the situation and get the message visible.

2. Be Proactive, Be Transp­arent, Be Accoun­table

In today’s real-time world of social media, and with critics everyw­here, reputation management matters more than ever and it can be lost in an instant. The tenets of any crisis commun­ication are to be proactive, be transp­arent, and be accoun­table. When put into action it looks like this: acknow­ledge the incident, accept respon­sib­ility, and apologize. - Lisa Allocca, Red Javelin Commun­ica­tions

3. Get Ahead of The Story

If I were the CEO of United Airlines, I would have been tweeting, texting and sending smoke signals the minute after I heard the story about the guy taken off the flight. I wouldn't wait until I had a strategy. Getting ahead of the story is the strategy. Figuring out the fine points of the strategy -- do that over the weekend. But start commun­ica­ting, apolog­izing, refunding, or whatev­er-ing now! - Michael Levin, Busine­ssG­host, Inc.

4. Be Ready For Social Media Backlash

The worst thing companies can do is ignore the possib­ility that a firestorm could ignite on social media. Smaller organi­zations can be more guilty of this, and especially those that are not active on social media. Just because a company is not marketing on social does not mean their customers won't put them in check on those platforms when something goes wrong. Have a plan and review it often. - Chris Dreyer, Rankin­

5. Remember To Be Human

Saying “you’ll look into it” doesn’t make anyone feel better. Saying you’re deeply saddened by what went down and will work on making things better is important. Then, immedi­ately share how policies will be put in place so it doesn’t happen again. Act fast before people lose faith in your brand. - Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group, LLC

6. First Apologize, Then Take Action

Extending a heartfelt apology is key to moving forward. Not doing so adds fuel to the fire and delays changing the narrative. Following a public apology, the company must offer a call to action. They must do something substa­ntial to show that they are changing their ways moving forward. - Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

7. Monitor, Plan And Commun­icate

Have your social team on high alert, with monitoring at the forefront. If they start noticing spikes of negativity or increased activity, utilize an already well-v­ersed crisis plan to proact­ively respond on social with prepared materials. Never let executives go rogue and potent­ially fuel the flames, but do encourage them to apologize immedi­ately with predet­ermined and approved key messages. - Matthew Jonas, TopFire Media

8. Seek First To Understand The Situation

Commun­icate all relevant details to key stakeh­olders. When asked to comment never reply with “no comment.” Even if you’re still assessing a situation, simply say that. If you don’t have a voice in the matter, people immedi­ately assume guilt or make their own suppos­itions. Also, recognize when operat­ional improv­ements are necessary and be transp­arent about how you're solving the situation. - Ashley Walters, Empower MediaM­ark­eting

9. Listen To Your Team First

It's too easy to be reactive, especially when your company's brand and reputation are at stake. Don't comment, post or tweet before you've conferred with your PR team on what the best, most reasoned approach will be. If you have a great team (and you should!), they will be on top of this and will have crafted language you can use immedi­ately. - Diana Wolff, LRG Marketing

10. Develop Strong Organi­zat­ional Brand Culture

Prevent the crisis. It's easy to blame frontline employees for recurring viral nightm­ares, but they’re not respon­sible for the toxic brand culture that breeds them. An organi­zat­ional brand culture that treats customers badly likely treats its employees poorly too. Dig deep into organi­zat­ional culture and service delivery and you’ll find that new lows in brand experience always start at the top. - Stephen Rosa, (add)v­entures

11. Turn Off The Fan

When the you-kn­ow-what hits the fan, the first rule of crisis management is to turn off the fan. Don't fuel the fire. Step back, put yourself in the consumers' shoes and ask, "How would I feel if this happened to me?" Looking in the mirror is the best PR advice there is when dealing with crisis situat­ions. It ensures we do the right thing. And right beats spin every time. - Kim Miller, Ink Link Marketing LLC

12. Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions

Companies, brand repres­ent­atives or influe­ncers often provide emotional, frenzied responses. Going silent on social is not a bad thing when you are monitoring a crisis. Freeze all external commun­ication until you can assess what’s going on. Be sure that the first external commun­ication following the crisis is a well-t­hou­ght-out response that resonates with your consumers. - Coltrane Curtis, Team Epiphany

13. Be Prepared

No one wants to be at the center of a scandal, but scrambling around because you're not prepared to handle it takes things from bad to worse. Anticipate potentials crisis scenarios and establish internal protocols for handling them. Before a crisis hits, outline who needs to be notified, your internal review process and the indivi­duals who are authorized to speak publicly on your behalf. - Lindsay Mullen, Prosper Strategies