Follow these steps to smooth the Crisis PR Management process.
By setting up early warning systems, it is easier to identify situations that might cause problems further down the line. Communications teams should always closely monitor the digital space using the appropriate tools to ease the crisis PR management process.
Identify key influencers in advance; these are the first people that could help diffuse a potentially bigger crisis. Similarly, being aware of influencers means a better idea of who might be looking to harm your reputation. Nurture relationships with stakeholders in advance and it may pay dividends should the worst happen. They might be employees, customers, suppliers, Trade Unions or even politicians.
Decide on position and messaging
But do it quickly. As well as the communications team, brief everybody that is customer-facing with the situation and the steps that are going to be taken.
Identify the channels of distribution – corporate blogs and social media are useful but it is also advisable to create lists of print, online and broadcast press that might cover the story. This allows a degree of control; broadcast the message that has been decided internally and make sure all interested parties receive it.
Establish a robust response, but bear in mind it might have to be tailored to different markets.
Have a pool of spokespersons identified before a crisis breaks. Respond online quickly by issuing a holding statement - the media is online these days and will get all of their first information from there. Follow up with a traditional press release or conference as appropriate,
Follow up with a traditional press release or conference as appropriate, with spokespersons made aware that they will be required to respond quickly in the event of media questions. If media are not able to get an official line, it leaves a vacuum which will often be filled by information from other sources which could well be negative.
It is essential to know what is being said about you, both on and offline. Once a statement has been issued, close the loop by monitoring the response to it and engaging where appropriate. Specialist media monitoring services can prove invaluable here, providing the opportunity for highly targeted monitoring if necessary. A crisis sometimes impacts particularly on a given geographic area, for example, and monitoring the media serving that area should be a priority.
Learn from the process; there are no hard and fast rules to crisis PR management, but being flexible and making decisions as the situation develops is key.
If you'd like Shaw & Underwood to help with Crisis PR Management, contact us, or call on 0121 454 5584.