How to Navigate A PR Crisis In Six Simple Steps

Bad reviews. An executive scandal. International data breach. A product malfunction. These are all examples of a PR crisis that many businesses have had to overcome, and they won’t be the last.

 

In today’s age of social media and innovation, the likelihood of a business facing a PR crisis continues to soar. While no one expects you to be perfect, how you respond can either give you a much-needed image boost or significantly damage your brand, alienating your customer base.

 

When a crisis does arise, use these helpful tips to navigate through the storm:

 

Appoint a response team.

Every business should already have a response team in place before a crisis hits to help ensure the right people are speaking on behalf of the company. This allows the organization to respond faster and speak with one voice, which can be difficult to achieve when multiple people are speaking on the company’s behalf.

 

The response team should be small and include the CEO, the company’s top PR executives and legal counsel. If the company’s PR executive does not have sufficient crisis communication expertise, consider retaining an agency with that specialty.

 

In addition, when a PR crisis occurs, each member of the response team should understand their role and responsibilities to help avoid confusion as well as any cross-over of duties.

 

Brief your team.

Once the strategy has been determined, relay the protocol to all persons who could be approached to speak on the company’s behalf. This means informing all employees, stakeholders, board members, etc., of who is to be speaking with the media and how they can direct any inquiries.

 

Craft your message.

Once the facts about the incident have been gathered, the team should agree on how to frame the response. When it comes to the response, think about the most transparent way to address the situation and what your company has done or will do about it – without placing external blame. In the response, be honest and open with your audience.

 

Once the message is crafted, it needs to be delivered in a timely manner. The sooner you apologize and admit the mistake, the sooner the public will forgive you. A prime example of a crisis being resolved correctly is how Starbucks handled their recent scandal by apologizing in a public statement, taking responsibility for the occurrence and making it clear that it won’t happen again.

 

Identify and address the affected parties.

Once the message has been crafted, identify the people who should know about the situation. This may include employees, stakeholders, business partners, customers and media. Audiences who need to be informed will depend on the context of the situation, but regardless of who’s receiving the message, you should make sure it is sent out in a timely manner.

 

Monitor the situation.

Assessing the brand’s image is especially important following a PR crisis, so keep an eye on inbound and outbound communications to address follow-up questions or concerns.

 

It’s also important to also track what people are saying about a company online. One way to do this is by establishing a monitoring system that quickly uncovers negative trends before they become a bigger problem and migrate to the media.

 

Dittoe PR uses TrendKite to track and monitor media coverage for clients, which allows us to look at the company’s media coverage, share of voice, sentiment, social media amplification, competitors’ coverage and more.

 

Review and learn from the situation.

Once the crisis is over, conduct a post-action review to determine how well your staff and management handled the situation. During the review, discuss what you could have done differently and what changes are necessary to prevent a similar situation.

 

What not to do.

When you come face-to-face with a PR crisis, stay away from these tactics:

 

  • Lashing out: Even if a media outlet or opposing party has said something false about your company, it is never a good idea to respond negatively or blame the complaint for the situation.

 

  • Offering no comment: Not having answers to potential questions is the worst thing you can do during a crisis. If you don’t have enough information to give a solid response, say so and assure that you will issue a statement when you have more details.

 

  • Responding too quickly: Handling a PR crisis is all about timing, so don’t give an answer prematurely before you know all the facts. This may cause you to contradict previous statements later could further damage your reputation.

 

 

  • Dwelling on the situation: A period of bad press is often just a hiccup on your path to success, so don’t let it completely distract you from continuing daily business responsibilities.

 

  • Avoid assembling a plan: Almost all crises can be avoidable with the right planning. Don’t wait until the last minute to assemble a thorough crisis communications plan.

How to Find Credible Sources to Cite in Media Pitches

With Google at our fingertips, information isn’t hard to find. But finding credible information can sometimes be a challenge.

 

In an era of “fake news,” it is more important than ever for public relations professionals to use credible sources in their pitches to journalists. These credible sources ensure your audience – journalists, and perhaps their readers, viewers, or listeners – can trust you, and that the assertions laid out in your pitch are backed up with reliable evidence.

 

Here are a few best practices for finding and citing credible sources in your next pitch:

 

What makes something credible?

As a PR professional, you are expected to use the best, most correct, most recent, and most reliable information possible. That way, journalists can trust in you and your client’s expertise.

 

Think of finding a credible source to include in your pitch the same way as finding reliable information to cite in your college research paper. To evaluate the credibility of a source, remember the acronym “CRAP:”

 

  • Currency: How recently was it published? Find information published less than five years ago, preferably within the last two years.
  • Reliability: Does the information have evidence to support it? Look for the original source of information, not a news article that cites a source.
  • Authority: Is the author an expert in their field? Fact-check information you find and pay careful attention to the sample size and who or what organization conducted the research.
  • Purpose/point of view: Why was it written? Analyze any biases the source may have.

If you’re not sure if a source is credible, don’t risk it. Find an alternative you know is reliable.

 

Where do you find credible sources?

Credible sources can be subject-matter experts such as professors, researchers, licensed professionals, or high-ranking executives, as well as industry research published in a scholarly journal, by a government agency or well-known research group.

 

For example, when pitching a healthcare client, turn to the National Safety Council, American Hospital Association, and Department of Health & Human Services as resources. For business clients, look at facts and figures from the Census Bureau, National Association of Women Business Owners, and Small Business Administration. In your actual pitch to journalists, link to these credible sources in the body of your email. That way, the reporter can reference the report to get more information about the statistic.

 

Using evidence that does not come from a credible source of information will not convince the reporter you’re pitching that the claims in your pitch are plausible – or even correct – and certainly won’t convince them to write about your client.

 

Ready for us to put together a custom pitching strategy for you? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com, or request a consultation today.

Tips for Responding to Customer Feedback on Social Media

Maintaining a presence on social media allows brands to connect with consumers on a more personal level and participate in online discussions related to their products, industry and more. With 81 percent of Americans actively using social media and more than 58 percent of users engaging with brands one to three times per day, it’s clear that consumers prefer to communicate with brands online.

 

Regardless of the engagements sentiment, when customers engage with your brand online, it is important to make them feel heard. There are a number of ways to respond to customer feedback on social media, so we’ve outlined a few tips to help:

 

Respond in real time.

Consistently monitoring your brands social media accounts will allow for quick action. Some platforms, like Facebook, even show users what your brands average response time is to encourage brands to monitor in real time.

 

If a customer reaches out with feedback via social media, a response should be posted – whether it be liking the comment, responding in kind, or assisting to escalate a customer service issue – within 24 hours at the most.

 

Personalize.

The last thing a customer wants is to just feel like their voice is not being heard. When responding to engagements online, personalize your response as much as possible to show your appreciation for their feedback.

 

If you’re using a bot to respond to customer service messages, be sure to follow up with a personal note to make sure the issue has been resolved.

 

Maintain a brand presence.

Does your brand have a team of social media responders? If so, it’s necessary to outline approved responses and provide employees with a brand guide. This will help to present a uniform face to customers, while still allowing your brand to engage naturally online.

 

If you don’t have brand guidelines established, revisit your social media strategy and reference any key messages outlined.

 

Take it offline.

When responding to negative comments online, brand should remember not to dwell on the negative, but to treat the feedback as an opportunity to grow. Ask the customer to send a direct message through the platform by which they originally engaged your brand. This will allow you to troubleshoot, ask for personal information, and more without leaving the platform.

 

Offer a solution.

There will always be people you just can’t please. And that’s okay as long as your brand is actively working toward a solution with its customers! Ensure that your team is offering uniform solutions and staying on brand when resolving customer service issues.

 

Need help building a strategy that works for your brand? Contact Lauryn Gray, lauryn@dittoepr.com, or request a consultation today!

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