Company PR crises are inevitable. No matter how big or small of a company you are, you will, at some point, have to deal with crises of varied natures. No PR crisis is small. Every kind yields damaging effects to your integrity and credibility as a business and ultimately to your sales potential. It doesn’t matter if it is of your own doing or the product of some outsiders or external factors. What matters is that you act fast and clean the mess by having a PR damage control plan. Although planning a damage control action cannot, in and of itself, completely make you taintless, it can at least minimize the potential harm. To get tips on planning PR damage control, read on.
- Get ready with your PR team. Your Public Relations Department should be at the forefront to handle the damage control. If, however, you don’t have such department, or any variation of it, you can create a PR team. This should be composed of key persons with solid knowledge of the crisis at hand and are in good positions to best represent the company. You can include, for instance, department heads, legal team, and marketing people. Then, choose a spokesperson. He should be the one dealing with the media and therefore should be available for interviews, be a good public speaker, and have tolerance for the media’s nosiness.
- Be transparent and honest. A crisis is better managed if it is unexposed to the media. But if it has found a way to the media, act fast to make a response. Don’t avoid the media; instead, supply them with transparent and honest information. If you are at fault, admit it and state your efforts to resolve the crisis. If it is of other’s doing, say your level of involvement. If everything is only a rumor, say so and support your claim with substantial information. Don’t lie. The media have a way of knowing whether you are lying, and if discovered, you may find your business submerged into a deeper pit.
- Make a public statement. At the initial stage, all you need is a public statement. It should detail every aspect of the crisis, your take on things, and your responses to the problem. Send the public statement to media organizations. Releasing a public statement signifies your accountability and responsiveness to the crisis. If necessary, issue a public apology as well.
- Write scripts. These scripts will be primarily used by your spokesperson and, if necessary, other PR staff members during interviews. The scripts are important to make sure you are giving out consistent statements. They should not necessarily be memorized verbatim. What’s important is that the scripts are delivered as spontaneous and as natural as possible.
Don’t wait for the media to hunt you. Especially if your crisis is news-worthy, sometimes getting ahead of the media is an effective crisis management. Doing so will highlight your awareness of the problem and your willingness to be publicly scrutinized—double plus points for you. So before it reaches editorial and news desks, publicize the crisis. Contact several news organizations and tell your story, putting great emphasis on your efforts to solve the problem.