Every crisis situation is different and needs to be approached comprehensively, taking into consideration a variety of unique factors pertaining to it. Still, certain rules and practices of an effective crisis PR response can be applied across a variety of scenarios.
Here are 10 golden rules of crisis PR worth following in nearly every situation:
- Have a crisis management plan in place.
Crises are fraught with uncertainty, and the only thing that’s certain about them is that crises will happen at one point or another. The only way to really prepare your organization for an effective crisis response is to have a plan of action and documented procedures that will help guide you through the time of challenge.
- Issue a holding statement
As soon as you become aware of a crisis that’s about to erupt, it’s often important to issue a holding statement letting the public know that you are aware of the situation and will follow up with an update shortly.
- Communicate fast, often and truthfully.
Timely and truthful communication is key for a successful crisis response. Remember, if you don’t tell your own story, then someone else will.
- Stick to the three C’s.
Concern, Control and Commitment. Let people know that you are concerned about the situation and those affected by it. Show that your company is in control and is doing everything possible to address, contain or repair the problem. Demonstrate your commitment to resolving the issue, identifying the problem and ensuring it won’t happen in the future.
- Communicate with all stakeholders.
Remember to communicate with all parties involved with your organization. This includes your customers, shareholders, vendors, employees, etc.
- Use adequate channels.
To make sure your messages reach your target audiences, use adequate channels for each group, including personal emails, press releases, TV & radio appearances, and social media.
- Plan, practice, prepare.
Follow the rule of three P’s. Once a crisis response plan is created, don’t forget to revisit it regularly ensuring that everyone in your organization knows his or her role during a public relations emergency.
- Communicate with the media.
Respond promptly to all media inquiries. This is the a vital way to minimize speculation and to exert a certain degree of control over your message in the outlets reporting on you.
- Employ competent and independent PR and legal counsel.
Even if you already have an internal communications team, it is worth hiring independent PR counsel that can provide you with additional support and an objective opinion. Also, it may be necessary for your legal advisers to clear some or all of your statements depending upon the crisis.
- Assess your crisis PR response.
Finally, once the crisis is mitigated, it’s important to conduct an after-action review. Assess how well staff and management performed during the crisis response. Discuss what could have been done differently and what changes need to occur to make your crisis response more effective in the future.