In the waning days of the year it's traditional to compile best-of lists: the best news stories of the year, the most influential people, the biggest sports stories of 2018 etc. The PR industry does this, too, of course.
For better or worse, PR crisis seems to be a mainstay of communications. As such, we offer a short video (below) from Solomon McCown & Company president Ashley McCown, revealing her top PR crises of 2018. You might recall McCown's video about the top crises for the first six months of 2018. It ran on this site early in August and was shared widely.
While we'll let this new, 3-minute video unveil her picks, the themes running through most of them involve trust, transparency and prompt response. Several of the crises could have benefited from prompt, transparent responses. A few of the brands involved lost a great deal of trust as a result of poor crisis response. Kicking the can down the road, trying to ignore a crisis or hiding it rarely are good responses.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Not that it's easy to manage a PR crisis. As we've written before, it’s inevitable that stakeholders will advocate for different approaches and degrees of transparency. Lawyers may urge brands to stay silent at the outset of a crisis, while communicators push for a swift, transparent apology. The savvy PR pro also will urge that a plan to ensure a similar crisis does not occur in the future be crafted and communicated.
And there’s the conundrum of when to react, if at all. React too fast and you can turn an issue into a crisis; wait too long and a small problem can fester into a messy crisis.
Now, if you're reading this post during the holiday break and you're at work, a modest proposal: Before watching the video, try to see if you can anticipate McCown's top 5 crises. Even better, gather your colleagues and turn it into a game. Let us know (email: [email protected]) who wins and what the prize is. The most creative response will win a crisis-related gift from us.
A few helpful hints before you start. The last four are traditional picks, but not all are examples of bad crisis management. Her top crisis pick for 2018 is the toughest. We'll give you a clue for that one: McCown's offices are located in the Boston area.
Good luck and happy guessing.
Seth Arenstein is editor of PR News. Follow him: @skarenstein