Originally posted on Forbes
Regardless of industry, PR crises can arise at any moment, and a company’s reputation can be significantly impacted if it does not handle them effectively. When internal problems are made public, negative publicity can rapidly spread and damage a company’s brand image.
To mitigate the negative impact of such events, it is crucial for the company’s PR team to implement effective crisis management tactics. Below, 15 Forbes Agency Council members offer some effective crisis management tactics that companies can use to address negative publicity following internal problems.
1. Have A Plan In Place
Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese general, strategist and philosopher, said, “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” This means it’s important for a company’s PR team to have a crisis plan in place to effectively address negative publicity. In a crisis, clear communication, taking responsibility and finding a solution can help mitigate damage and restore public trust. – Jon James, Ignited Results
Negative publicity does not simply go away, so don’t fool yourself. Address the issue with facts, quickly and thoroughly, then articulate what you are doing going forward to prevent it from surfacing again. Make sure that message is addressed consistently to all audiences. There is no such thing as single-audience communication—all audiences overlap in some way. – Brian Sullivan, Sullivan Branding
3. Act Swiftly
The most important action is to act. Do not avoid the issue, hide or ignore it. How swiftly and clearly you respond is going to be vital. Be transparent. If you are looking into the problem initially, say that. When you have agreed on a response or an action, say what it is. Answer individual comments and really engage with the publicity, however critical it is. – Julia Linehan, The Digital Voice PR Agency Ltd.
4. Don’t Let Your Emotions Get The Better Of You
Once bad news goes public, remember that a spokesperson’s first emotional response is rarely the best. Take time to breathe, bring in trusted advisors and—if the situation warrants a response—craft one that demonstrates accountability and future action. – Lindsey Groepper, BLASTmedia
5. Have ‘Holding Statements’ Ready
It’s important to have a couple of “holding statements” already crafted, approved and on file. That way, should a journalist get wind of your internal problems before the company is ready to make an official statement, you simply provide the statement to buy time or to put them off indefinitely. It’s also important to perpetually generate a healthy amount of positive media attention as an offset. – Marie Swift, Impact Communications, Inc.
6. Be Available
Even if you don’t have an immediate answer, quickly reply to inquiries so it’s clear you’re not hiding. It can be as simple as, “While we’re still trying to gather the facts of what has occurred, I wanted to get back to you. We’ll be back in touch as soon as we have an understanding of what has transpired and will offer a response at that time.” Better yet, offer a reply time frame. – Carm Lyman, Lyman Agency
7. Work To Fully Understand The Situation
Work to understand as many of the situation’s dynamics as you can before taking action. Knowing only some of the situation makes you vulnerable to increased problems. When an incident happens, for example, we need to know its related history. Has this happened previously? How did we react to it? Did the media cover it? Is it searchable? Customers, media and employees are less forgiving if we have a poor track record. – Dean Trevelino, Trevelino/Keller
8. Be Open And Honest
Being open and honest about the situation and any steps you’ve taken to address it is essential for building trust and credibility with the public. Additionally, companies should take responsibility for their mistakes and communicate remorse. By being transparent, companies can demonstrate that they take responsibility for any issues that arise and are committed to resolving them. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO
9. Avoid Smoke And Mirrors
First, understand the issues and determine the best path forward. Second, communicate quickly and honestly. Finally, avoid spinning the message. Audiences today are more empowered and do their own due diligence, so be real and human. Acknowledge the situation, and avoid making excuses. Have a bias toward action and address the situation promptly. – Monica Alvarez-Mitchell, Pulse Creative, LLC
10. Provide Regular Updates
In the face of negative publicity, a key crisis management tactic is to be proactive and transparent. This means quickly acknowledging the issue, taking responsibility and communicating the steps being taken to address and prevent future problems. Providing regular updates and being accessible to stakeholders can help rebuild trust and mitigate further damage to the company’s reputation. – Kenny Tripura, Edkent Media
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