In a previous post I was talking about the fact that a crisis can happen no matter the company, the past and the present. Some things can simply go wrong. I said that you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Of course you can’t have some defined steps in mind, or certain rules, but you may know some general principles that might be useful when media is going wild.
1. There will be bad stories, but you have to focus and think beyond this. You don’t have to judge the impact by the size of the headline. You have to understand how these will affect your image throughout the key audiences. So you need to know well who your key audiences are and think about their reaction.
1. The media is not against you or your company. The media is all about the public and its concern. You have to think through the public’s eyes, trying to understand what the people might think about the unpleasant situation.
2. Think like a person outside the organisation would. Acting like an insider won’t help you evaluate the story. The most important thing to do is figure out if it is true and only then decides on your next step.
3. The public’s opinion is always valuable, even if it seems out of order. In PR, crisis management and retail, the customer or public is always correct. In order to change the public opinion, long-term strategies are mandatory.
4. Always take action. Actions are far more important than words, so don’t show statements or press releases to the public. The public needs to see what you do, not what you say.
5. Make sure you have clear communication lines within your organisation. Be careful when talking to the media, don’t be hasty as this will potentially create damage to your charity. Try not to get in the situation where there is no person assigned to talk to the press or make crucial decisions.
6. Create a plan that copes with high levels of media interest. Try thinking what could happen if you had a lot of media interest on your back. Include details such as who would handle the media calls, or could that person cope with the pressure? Are extra resources needed? Who is in charge of all this?
In the case of negative publicity towards your organisation, stress and time pressure will have a severe impact on you. Having a plan prepared in advance will keep you clear and ahead of the game.
7. Knowing in advance is a very useful weapon. Crisis management plans only suit your own organisation. Identify the weak points (where negative press coverage impacts you the most) and think what you can do about them.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You cannot calculate your next steps. Taking a decision is much harder than you think and it involves years of experience and a lot of intuition to make it right.
9. Taking matters into your own hands is a tricky business. Try not to use clever news management techniques to solve your crisis because in most cases you will only make things worse. Only apply them if you are sure on what you are doing.