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 A Great PR Strategy Can Grow Your Business

In today’s world of rapid technological advancement and globalized commerce, startups and Fortune 500 companies alike are searching for new ways to build their business, gain visibility, and stand out amongst the competition.

 

When it comes to building and communicating the credibility of your service or product to the world, PR is, hands down, the best strategy and can be one of the most cost-effective ways to raise brand awareness and increase sales.

 

Sharing your entrepreneurial story in national business publications, getting product placements in popular magazines, participating in expert interviews on industry topics, and earning positive social media “shout outs” from influencers have the power to significantly impact your business and your brand.

 

Here’s how a strategic, well-thought-out, and well-executed PR campaign can help your business grow:

 

Increase brand awareness.

One of the biggest and most obvious benefits of PR is that it can gain exposure for your brand. A great PR strategy will include securing media stories about your company and its products or services. This can be much more effective than traditional brand-building techniques like paid advertising because people don’t relate to advertisements – they consume them. Storytelling is the way people attach meaning to products and services, and it’s the reason they want to belong to a brand.

 

For example, a potential customer is more likely to feel a connection to your business when reading a feature story about your company in a reputable, national publication like the Wall Street Journal or Inc. Magazine, than glancing at a banner ad at the top of the web page.

 

Improve SEO.

Another great benefit of a strategic PR campaign is that it will improve your online presence. Media stories about your business in national, local, and industry-specific digital publications will improve your company’s search engine optimization (SEO). But a great PR team doesn’t rely solely on articles written by reporters. PR professionals can create their own content that can be pitched to and placed in publications.

 

For example, byline articles or op-eds on topics relevant to your target audience, case studies highlighting your own clients’ success using your services or products, and optimized blog posts for your own website can help you move to the top of the search results page, increasing your online presence and building your credibility.

 

Build credibility.

Whether you’re looking to gain new customers, find new investors, or maybe even get noticed by larger companies for a potential buyout, credibility is a must. Similar to how a great feature in a top publication can help build brand awareness, it can also build your credibility. A positive endorsement from a third party generates much more credibility than advertising.

 

Create a press page on your company’s website to showcase all of the great press your PR team has secured for your company. It’s also important to proactively share media coverage across your social channels and in your email marketing content.

 

Generate new clients and new business.

The main goal for most companies is to increase sales and generate new business, and if a PR team’s campaign is strategic, it can do just that. Media outreach should be targeted to a specific target audience.

 

For companies selling a consumer product, securing coverage in top consumer magazines and national morning TV shows, as well as working with social media influencers and bloggers may be the best approach to take. But, if you’re selling a B2B service, then coverage in industry trade publications, as well as national business outlets, may impact your business more than a segment on the ‘Today Show.’

 

To measure PR efforts, your team should have access to a variety measurement tools such as Google Analytics and social media metrics through platforms like Sprout Social or Hootsuite. This allows your team to see what types of media hits result in increased website and social media traffic. A great PR agency will also invest in their own PR analytics software tool and can track KPIs such as total media mentions, share of voice among competitors, engagement, sentiment, and social media amplification.

 

Recruit top talent.

Last, but certainly not least, a great PR campaign has the ability to attract top talent to your company. Stories on company growth and innovation, as well as your culture and philanthropic initiatives help to position your company as a desirable place to work. Touting award recognitions for your business and announcing new hires and promotions are also great ways to solidify your organization as a top workplace in your area or industry.

 

Securing media hits and increasing your online presence is important but is not always the end goal. At Dittoe Public Relations, we recognize and understand the value of translating those PR efforts into real business success for our clients.

 

We are not simply media relations specialists. We are business consultants. We pride ourselves on becoming immersed within our clients’ businesses and industries and thrive on helping them grow through our strategic PR campaigns.

 

Ready for us to put together a custom strategy for you? If so, contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com.

Is Your PR Working? Four Measurements to Consider.

For many companies, there’s no better feeling than seeing positive media coverage about your brand. Not only is it a powerful way to build credibility and raise awareness, but it’s also a great way to further your business objectives. That is, if you know which elements you should value and measure.

analytics

While some PR agencies use publicity value as the be-all, end-all factor in determining the value of PR, we try to stay away from this as much as possible. Why? There are two main reasons. For one, the way that agencies arrive at this number is nebulous at best. Secondly, we’re much more concerned with the actual business results driven by PR versus an ambiguous publicity value that doesn’t tell us any key sales metrics, such as the number of leads produced or sales closed as a result of the media placement.

With this in mind, here are four factors you should always consider when measuring the effectiveness of your PR campaign.

Calculate share of voice beyond just your competitors

We measure results not only by the volume of media coverage, but also through the share of voice relative to both competitors and keywords. Understanding how often your brand is mentioned compared to your competitors is important to track over time in order to gauge the success of your PR efforts. Keyword share of voice shows how your brand has (or has not) earned its place among a certain set of keywords or topics relevant to their product.

Evaluate the quality of media placements

Another metric that can be taken into account for PR measurement is the quality of a media placement. When gauging the quality of each story, we look at a variety of factors, including whether a brand spokesman is quoted, if a link to the website is provided, if the story is a more in-depth profile versus a brief mention in a story, whether the sentiment is positive, negative or neutral, and if the outlet has shared the story on social media.

Is it influencing business results?

We also evaluate which types of media placements drive the best business results for our clients. Especially for b-to-b companies, there are many instances when a placement in a specialized trade publication can be far more impactful than a top-tier national media outlet. By analyzing our clients’ Google Analytics, we can determine which media placements drive the most qualified sales leads.

In fact, when recently doing just that for a b-to-c client, we discovered that the top referral source to its website was not The Today Show, Good Morning America or one of the other top national media hits we obtained for them. Instead, it was a very niche website with a much smaller audience that generated the most traffic to their website. Sure, the bigger marquee pieces of media coverage are phenomenal to have from an exposure and credibility standpoint, but ultimately the smaller, more targeted media outlets may result in better business outcomes.

When evaluating the traffic our PR efforts are driving for clients, we’re also looking to Google Analytics to determine if it’s high quality traffic. If our PR is effective, we should be seeing the bounce rate decrease, while pages per session and time spent on the website increase.

Track the behavior of sales prospects

Website user behavior also offers a trove of information for measuring PR efforts. For example, you can track behaviors such as how many people downloaded a content item (such as a whitepaper) and how many of these downloads turn into a sale. This tells you if the leads that you’re bringing to your brand’s website using a PR tactic are qualified leads that have a substantial impact on the bottom line.

Above all else, we stress to clients that PR is a sales function – rather than an extension of marketing. We’re distributing content and information about their brand that needs to have a measurable sales impact, not just regurgitate marketing messaging.

Would you like us to conduct an audit of your current PR results? If you’d like help in determining the effectiveness of your current PR campaign, give us a shout here.

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