Food for Thought

Whether you are in finance, fashion or food, if you have visibility with the media, your firm’s image can tarnish in a matter of seconds after a slip of the tongue or a bad market decision. Bouncing back from a PR crisis depends on the next steps your publicity team takes and how skilled they are in positioning your story. Time and again, we have seen public figures bashed in the news, with less-than-desirable headlines and pictures that drive home the story the media is out to portray. Why do some people end up on top while others crash and burn? Here are a few tips from our PR team.

1. Identify the issue. Address the immediate problem and always be responsive to follow-up questions or issues. Unfortunately there tends to be a rush to put a “Band-Aid” on the immediate problem while the underlying complexity of the issue can perpetuate further damage.

2. Know who your audience is and who key conversation starters are. Engage them often and early to avoid negative publicity.

3. Develop concise, effective messaging. Be on the platform where your crisis is happening. Don’t create a YouTube video in response to a WSJ article. Face the issue head on and be prepared so you can help shape your future with the right messages.

4. When you mess up, own it. Apologize and admit the error. Sometime this is all it takes to bring your positive image back. If not, it is always the first step in the right direction.

5. Anticipate a crisis by being proactive and prepared. Make sure your team has a plan for the worst case scenario. Study what has happened to other companies inside and outside your industry, then determine your most vulnerable areas.

6. Have a social media strategy. Do you have the tools and people in place to monitor FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the blogosphere? Being ready to respond quickly to negativity on social media can help nip a crisis in the bud before it blossoms into a situation that is out of your control.

More times than not, a PR crisis stems from a much larger root. Unless the larger issue is effectively managed, all the efforts to quell the storm are wasted. Most importantly, tell the truth from the start. Inevitably the facts will surface and make sure these are collected before making a public declaration.

It is not impossible to re-brand an image after a PR crisis, but make sure you hire a competent public relations firm – not just a publicist – to help you find that change.

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