3 Ways to Mitigate a Crisis

Swing a cat and you’ll find one crisis or another. Take the current dispute between Amazon and Hachette. Or the ongoing customer boycott of supermarket chain DeMoulas Market Basket because of a nasty fight in the corporate suite.

Smart PR managers know that it’s not a matter of if their company will incur a crisis, but when. They don’t call them crises for nothing, of course. That’s why they’re so difficult to prepare for.


Myra Oppel

Myra Oppel, regional communications VP at Pepco Holdings Inc., will discuss crisis management strategies during the Interactive Crisis Management Workshop session at PR News’ One-Day Boot Camp for Emerging PR Stars, which takes place in Boston on September 8.

Below, Oppel provides a few tips on how to mitigate any damage caused by a crisis:

  • If a crisis does hit, it is also critical that you own your own story. You need to be first to talk about the issue, which means you need to be quick and accurate. By getting ahead of others who might speak against you or distort the truth, you can frame the narrative for your story. You at least can get out the facts to help set the stage for accurate reporting.
  • Admission is better than accusation. If you have bungled something, you need to confess and repent. Take the initiative to explain what you did wrong, what you’re doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again and how you will try to make it right for those you’ve failed. If you explain what actually happened, you can defuse accusations or speculations of something worse.
  • Sing the same tune. Even if you have only one public spokesperson, make sure all strategic areas of your company know the messaging and stick to it. You do not want to give the media one message and a different message to others because, at some point, they might compare stories. Get your employees up to speed because they have credibility and can be ambassadors, even in grocery checkout lines or at soccer practice.

To learn more about crisis management, register for PR News’ One-Day Boot Camp for Emerging Stars.

Follow Myra Oppel on Twitter: @PepcoConnect

Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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