APM Handling a PR Crisis

Protecting your reputation – PR crisis management

The secret to handling any PR crisis is being prepared. We tell you how…

At some stage in your company’s life, you are likely to experience some risk to your reputation – it may be something minor, such as a bad review online, or something major, like the Virgin Galactic’s Test crash in 2014. How your PR people handle the crisis will have a major impact on your business going forwards.

Richard Branson is a master of good PR, and he was praised for his response to the disaster, as he personally travelled to the crash site and appeared at the press conference, resulting in some very positive PR at what could have been a disastrous time for the project.

While Virgin will have a whole raft of PR specialists on hand to deal with such situations, even the smallest company should be prepared to handle a PR crisis.

You could tackle it like Glasgow restaurateur Paolo Martone, whose online retorts against bad reviews on travel review website Trip Advisor are legendary.

However, unlike Mr Martone, most of us aren’t trained criminal lawyers, so we may need a different plan! What you’ll need is a PR crisis management plan.

So what is PR crisis management?

When your business experiences any risk to its reputation, PR crisis management will help you to handle it, reduce any negative impact, and even manage to put a positive spin on it.

What you don’t want to do is be taken completely unaware by any crisis, and not have any clue how to handle it. Being prepared is half the battle.

For instance, your back-up plan could include drafting a blanket statement or press release that can be quickly customised should you need it.

You should also ensure that employees are aware of any media plan you have – so that they know what to do if they are contacted by the press and who they should pass any enquiries to.

These are things that can be outsourced to a PR or marketing specialist if you don’t have one in-house

Basic rules of crisis management

  1. Take responsibility – Don’t bury your head in the sand – it won’t go away! Far better to respond to the situation quickly. Don’t get involved in high-profile conversations on social media, instead acknowledge people’s concerns. A press release and social media post will help to control the situation and show you are not hiding away
  2. Follow this premise – Be proactive, transparent and accountable – you should acknowledge the incident, accept responsibility for it, and apologise where necessary
  3. Be ready to respond to social media criticism – Don’t wait for something to happen – have a plan ready in case the worst should happen, then you can act quickly before it spirals out of control.
  4. Be sincere – Fake apologies can be spotted a mile off!

If you would like to have a chat about PR crisis management or your other  marketing requirements please call Alison Page on tel: 07963 002065 or email: hello@alisonpagemarketing.co.uk. You can of course browse our website to see what our existing clients have to say about our work.