Creative thinking that delivers results

16 Apr

Crisis Communications: Turning a PR fail into a big win

Category: Communications

Many companies are scared silly about having to deal with the fallout from a PR disaster, what with the speed and flow of news and information today. But like many other aspects of business, a bad situation can quickly be turned into a positive with the right approach.

Negative PR has become a bigger concern today mainly because of the internet and social media. Both have created a totally different communications environment where bad news travels quickly and impacts more people to a greater extent than ever before. You need to be sensitive to this and the impact it might have on your company and brand.

Prepare, Plan and React Appropriately

The key to dealing with a potential PR disaster is to be prepared in advance for it by incorporating the following principles:

  •  -      Develop a Crisis Communications Plan that addresses most if not all your known and potential risks.  Take steps to minimize or eliminate these risks where possible.

  •   -     This plan needs to be maintained and updated on a regular basis, communicated clearly throughout the organization and have buy-in from senior management.
  •   -     When dealing with PR failures, be honest and sincere with your stakeholders. Nowadays, people are more adept at smelling a rat. Don’t give them a reason to doubt and distrust you by failing to be upfront with them.
  •   -     Make sure your social media, PR and related areas are manned by experienced communicators capable of crafting appropriate messages ‘on the fly’. And have a clearly defined escalation process in place to deal with any crises. At this point, the last thing you can afford is for someone to add any fuel to your fire!

In doing all of this, ensure that your vision, values and overall business strategy are reflected in everything you say and do, and that you remain ‘real’ at all times. Picture your desired outcome and work towards achieving it with clear and forthright messaging.

Do this and you can avert disaster. More importantly, do it well and with sincerity and you can actually be rewarded through the creation of brand advocates that respect you just as much for how you’ve handled this situation as for the products you sell!

Turning a PR Disaster Around

It’s indeed possible to turn a PR problem into a positive. What it takes is a disciplined approach that covers the points noted above. A recent example worth noting is the controversy around Under Armour’s speedskating suits for the US team at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

You can check out the full account of this PR turnaround in the excellent article Ad Age wrote. Suffice it to say that by acknowledging the issue, developing targeted, strategic communications involving key influencers and spokespeople, and most importantly reaffirming their commitment to US Speedskating by extending their sponsorship deal to 2022, Under Armour was able to right the ship and keep it sailing on to calmer waters.

If you need help with social media, PR or your Crisis Communications Plan, give us a ring. We’d be happy to sit down with you and discuss this in greater detail!