Regardless of the size, even the best-managed companies may fall into unexpected public relations crises. Recalls of dangerous or contaminated products, civil product liability lawsuits, and other unforeseen disasters can damage sales, bottom lines, and/or affect the company’s image.
When the public relations crisis hits, the CEO’s initial response may be to obstruct the media and refuse to comment. Public relations experts who have successfully handled many situations with crisis management strategies say that this is the wrong way to solve the problem. They urge the opposite-immediate and full public disclosure.
Here are six crisis management techniques that can help companies successfully resolve and resolve them smoothly.
- Companies can take steps after a public relations crisis to mitigate the adverse effects by admitting any mistakes and holding a press conference.
- Social media may have a negative impact on the company.
- Making a crisis management plan or even a team may be a key element of a large company.
- When a crisis occurs, company officials should seek advice from internal legal counsel or external lawyers.
- To be honest is a key aspect of handling PR after a crisis.
1. Facing the crisis
Although every crisis has its own unique aspects, there are general principles that apply to most crises. No matter what the crisis is, the media and the public want to know what happened. Your customers will want to know why it happened and how to fix it, including any possible compensation for the damage or inconvenience they may have suffered.
The guiding principle for dealing with such crises is to tell the truth. Only publicly state what is known and only state the facts. Do not make assumptions, guesses, or speculations about any aspect of the crisis. Make sure that the legal counsel checks all statements before being released.
In most cases, concealing facts about the crisis will be counterproductive, because the media can expose these facts, report information widely, and further harm the interests of the company.
2. Speak to the media
In most cases where a public relations crisis affects a company, the media will contact the company’s CEO, company spokesperson or public relations department (if any) or certain senior managers. The reporter will ask them for specific explanations and statements that they can quote in the report.
Designate a crisis management team or individual and send all requests for information to the appropriate members or spokespersons of the team.
No one else in the company is allowed to speak to the media. Internal information about the crisis should only be provided to the crisis management team and/or spokesperson to ensure that the company speaks with a single, consistent voice. If there are technical aspects that need to be disclosed, experts in specific fields should be appointed to interact with the media.
The CEO can also provide real-time or recorded interviews to the media in which all questions are answered. Broadcasting live on TV or answering customer questions on social media channels is another effective way to deal with crises. It may also be necessary to hire a public relations firm or crisis management technical expert consultant. Even if the news is widely reported, it may be recommended to buy advertisements on the radio, the Internet, and social media to help solve the crisis.
3. Make a public statement
The public statement should also include how people might be affected by the problem. This includes notifying customers who may have purchased a recalled, defective or contaminated product. In these cases, the company should provide a refund or equivalent replacement for the product. The contaminated product should be disposed of (in some cases), and the customer who purchased the product should be informed of the risks.
When speaking to the public and/or the media, show a calm and compassionate face. Denying responsibility or accountability for this situation will lead to more customer and public hostility. Remember, this method is different from the recognition of responsibility, which is a legal issue determined by the court: but again, make a clear public statement with the legal counsel.
Responding to a crisis should start with an honest and strong public relations plan, which includes damage control and opportunities to rebuild the public’s perception of your company.
A prepared press release, whether produced internally or by an external public relations or media relations company, can also resolve the crisis in more detail and detail than a public statement. The press release may also include Q&A exchanges to predict what the public wants to know about the crisis. One suggestion is to use a question-and-answer format to provide general information in short paragraphs of one or two sentences that is easy to read and understand.
4. Know any potential legal issues
Legal issues should be discussed with lawyers. Until the legal aspects of the crisis are fully understood and resolved, lawyers may urge the media to conduct a full “no comment” on the media. There may also be insurance issues, and the lawyer should check the applicable policies.
However, the disadvantage of the “no comment” approach is often to increase media investigation and negative public image. If the crisis leads to civil lawsuits or even criminal prosecutions, the indicted company refuses to comment, which will have a negative impact on the jury.
5. Support your customers
Affected companies should expect customers to be angry and disappointed. These are natural reactions. If the company takes responsible actions, these emotions will eventually disappear and be replaced by new loyalty to the brand.
For example, a customer may show up in a store and ask for a refund for a recalled or defective product or an affected service. The company should immediately initiate a full refund or replacement policy to restore goodwill among customers. Providing additional rewards to affected customers in the form of gift cards or discount coupons will also help rebuild customer loyalty.
Drafting new and more comprehensive product and/or service guarantees may stimulate consumer confidence and even stimulate stronger sales after the crisis.
6. Create a PR-friendly advertising campaign
Once the crisis seems to be abating, the company should consider short advertising campaigns on digital or traditional media to further spread and strengthen your message. Public relations advertising information should also be posted on all available digital content channels.
The main points to be emphasized in the advertisement should include:
- The company’s full refund or replacement policy for affected products
- Measures taken to prevent the problem from recurring
- New guarantee
- New incentives (reward gift cards, discounts, etc.) to regain lost business
- Apologies for any inconvenience caused by the crisis
When a crisis hits a company, a quick, honest, and complete disclosure response is the best way to control losses, maintain the trust of the customer base, and minimize sales losses, which is inevitable in most cases.
However, in the end, if the principles of crisis management are implemented, sales should be restored, and credibility, consumer trust, and public image will be restored.