Use Measurement to Effectively Manage Crisis Communications


Lessons learned from how your competitors are handling - or mishandling - a crisis should be added to your measurement arsenal and deployed when your own organization is battling a crisis of confidence. That's one of the strategies gleaned from last week's measurement Webinar hosted by PR NEWS. "PR uniquely owns negative news. When the news is good, everyone celebrates. When the news is bad, it's PR's problem," said Mark Weiner, CEO of Delahaye Medialink, one of the presenters of the Aug. 13 Webinar "Measuring the Impact of PR on Your Company's Bottom Line and Reputation." Weiner and Dan Tarman, managing director of the corporate/financial practice in the San Francisco office of Burson-Marsteller, shared their strategic advice for leveraging measurement to avoid negative press - and to manage it when it does happen. Tarman suggests you should benchmark employee perceptions of your organization on a regular basis, through focus groups, anonymous response surveys and employee satisfaction surveys. When a crisis strikes, compare the data gleaned from those constant measures to employee feedback in meetings and from quick-turnaround electronic surveys implemented at the onset of the crisis. Tarman also counsels clients to have a strong understanding of how their company is perceived by external stakeholders, either through metrics like Fortune and Forbes rankings or grassroots surveys of key journalists covering the field. Again, when trouble hits your organization, conduct proactive measurement, such as a media audit with those journalists, to see how well you've weathered the storm and whether your communications were considered effective in mitigating the damage. Ask reporters questions like how clear messages were and whether they felt they had access to the sources and information they needed throughout the crisis. Weiner advises companies to assess how they measure up to the competition with journalists, customers and other stakeholders using the competition as a benchmark. Companies in the energy industry, for instance, can certainly consider Enron a new low. And use measurement of an effective crisis communications strategy to continually sell PR throughout your organization. (Weiner, mweiner@delahayemedialink.com; Tarman, dan_tarman@sfo.bm.com) For more information on PR NEWS Webinars, or to purchase an audiocassette and presentation handouts for "Measuring the Impact of PR on Your Company's Bottom Line and Reputation," see http://www.PRandMarketing.com/seminars.

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