Brands cannot afford to be caught unprepared when a crisis strikes. Too many times, organizations try to handle the situation as it unfolds, sending out information that is inaccurate and uncoordinated. Or worse, they try to delay talking to the media and the public in the hopes that the problem will just go away. Either tactic can lead to disaster for a company’s reputation.
Your brand’s communications team should have a comprehensive crisis-management plan in place that takes into account message development. Cindy Rakowitz, CEO of Blackman Rakowitz Public Relations, shares some items to have in place when developing your crisis messaging.
- Designated spokesperson. It is best to use a single individual to represent the company. In addition to the spokesperson, designate technical experts to provide supplemental information and support to the spokesperson.
- Mission statement. A mission statement defines the company’s reason for existence, guiding the actions of the organization. It provides the framework for all business strategies and decisions, including crisis response.
- Positioning. This is where a company needs to empathize with how the public perceives the crisis. If responsible, apologizing immediately wins sympathy and allies.
- Media procedure. The PR director’s strong relationships with the media will help in the midst of a crisis. The PR staff should know how to handle the barrage of inquiries via telephone and social media. In the event of a physical disaster, an off-site media enter should be predetermined. All spokespeople should be media trained.
- Prepared statements. Statements and news releases include the answers to who, what, where and when in response to a crisis. Demonstrating immediate concern along with an action plan will have a positive impact on public opinion.
- Message mapping. It is imperative to anticipate every possible question in order to construct the best answers. This reinforces the public’s confidence and trust.
- Key audiences. Prepare a list of constituents and tailor statements to address specific stakeholders.
To learn more about handling a crisis, join PR News for the Crisis Management Boot Camp, taking place on Sept. 15 in New York City.
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