When a PR crisis happens, time is against you. You’ll need to act quickly and efficiently to diffuse the situation. There can be no hesitation or uncertainty. The clock is ticking. Every second counts. When your company’s reputation is on the line, you need a crisis strategy. What do you do?
No company is immune from a PR crisis. If you’re at all in the public eye, a misstep is often inevitable. It could come in the form of a negative review on social media, a breach of data, a company scandal, or a poorly-executed marketing campaign. Whatever your eventual PR crisis, it has the potential to come from left of field and shock you. While the event itself may be surprising, how you react to it shouldn’t be. You’ll need an experienced team and action plan to handle your crisis before it even happens.
La Brea Media is here to help. As crisis management public relations experts, we’ll work to ensure your brand and reputation is protected and your PR crisis becomes an opportunity for growth in your company as opposed to a death knell.
What Is a Public Relations (PR) Crisis?
A PR crisis occurs when a person or company receives overwhelmingly negative publicity from the media and general public. These crises can do serious damage, resulting in loss of income, unemployment, and public humiliation. With social media so readily accessible all around the world, it’s never been a worse time to slip up in the public eye. News travels fast. The truth doesn’t matter. Once a crisis gets online and goes viral, there’s very little you can do to stop the juggernaut of information.
It’s important to be able to differentiate between an embarrassing mistake and a public relations crisis. We all make mistakes, and with the amount of content being generated to stay relevant, mistakes are more likely than ever to happen. Not every mistake is a crisis. To determine if you have a PR crisis on your hands, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will this upset stakeholders and potentially damage workflow productivity of my company?
- Was anyone killed or injured?
- Will we lose money? Is our bottom line at risk?
- Will this do damage to our brand and reputation? Will we lose followers, stakeholders, customers, or investors?
If you answer “yes” to just one of these questions, you might be in trouble, but you’re not in a crisis situation. Most likely, you’re dealing with a negative review or embarrassing social post. However, if you answer “yes” to two of these questions, then you need to be on high alert and ready to act. If you answered yes to three or maybe even four of these questions, well, buckle up. You’re in full crisis PR mode.
Do. Not. Panic. The worst thing you can do is overreact. The second worst thing you can do is under-react. Your response needs to be quick, measured, and thoughtful. It’s important that you pay attention to what is being said online about your company to assess how much damage has been done. This is called Social Listening. If the comments online have taken a sharp shift towards a negative trend, your PR crisis is likely well on its way to worsening. If you haven’t already pre-planned your crisis management, don’t wait a moment longer. It’s time to get an experienced crisis management PR team together now.
What Can La Brea Media Do For Me And My Business?
Howard Bragman and La Brea Media are primed and ready to help. Our crisis management PR team is experienced with all three stages of a PR crisis:
We’ve broken down our services into actionable plans that address all three stages of PR crisis management.
STEP ONE: Crisis Preplanning
There’s no way to predict the future. That’s why it’s important to have contingency plans in place for as many potential crisis scenarios as possible. Creating a PR crisis plan before a crisis occurs will save you valuable time, effort, and resources. It may even save your reputation or entire brand. Howard Bragman and the La Brea Media crisis team will make sure that you have protocols in place, especially when it comes to social media. Crisis planning might not be able to stop the crisis situation from occurring, but it will give you an advantage. And in a crisis, every advantage needs to be handled expertly.
STEP TWO: Creating a Crisis Response Team
Howard will personally help you assemble the best PR crisis response team for your needs, from in-house employees and outside operators. Keeping the team diverse will allow you to get more opinions from different social spheres. We’ll make sure that everyone is fully on-board with a unified message. Note: many PR crises that truly go up in flames are the result of someone going rogue. Your messages will be streamlined and refined from the top of the company all the way down. We’ll ensure to create a prioritized list of people to contact during a crisis. A chain of command and united front will be established in terms of communicating to the media. Nothing will be posted without oversight and approval. At La Brea Media, we believe that media training is important. Once a dedicated spokesperson is selected for the crisis response team, we’ll be sure to assist them so that you or your business are presented in the best possible light.
STEP THREE: Forming a Crisis Management Plan
You have to be ready to handle a PR crisis when it first hits. To remain in control, you’ll need a comprehensive crisis management plan and thoughtful crisis preparedness. Your crisis communication plan will make sure everyone knows where their battlestations are. La Brea Media will curate a checklist of necessary actions to be implemented. As your crisis communications team, we’ll compile the contact details of each person who needs to be reached out to when the time is right, including helpful contacts in media, social media, lawyers, journalists, and influencers. We’ll have drafts of press releases, social media posts, emails, interview questions, and more.
Our baseline includes:
- Listening to social media;
- Figuring out why the crisis has occurred, and how we will solve it;
- Curating the proper responses to effectively cauterize where damage is worst; and
- Responding with honest and clear answers as quickly as possible on all appropriate outlets including social media accounts, press, websites and others.
A crisis communication plan can be vital to helping to right the ship and restore balance to your brand.
STEP FOUR: Listening to Social Media and Media Monitoring
The best way to stop a crisis before it begins is to keep a close eye on social media relations and mentions for your brand through media monitoring. La Brea Media can monitor trending topics, hashtags, products, industry news, competitors, and more to accurately understand what is being said about you, as well as when, and why. Social media can make or break a company before, during and after a PR crisis; part of our job is to watch it like a hawk. After the crisis passes, we can continue to monitor trends and responses, tailoring our outreach to best suit the reactions of others. We’ll also help beef up your engagement on social media when times are calm. The bigger your presence on social media, the better chance you have of keeping better control of your own narrative. Whether the news is good or bad, we’ll have data tracking with Google Alerts and other highly specialized tools to ensure we know what’s being said about you the moment it gets said.
STEP FIVE: Finding the Facts and Acting Appropriately
When things go south, people have a tendency to panic. When people panic, they have a tendency to stretch the truth or flat-out lie in an effort to save themselves. No matter what your PR crisis is, it won’t be the first PR management rodeo for La Brea Media. Until the facts about the crisis are in our possession, we won’t risk putting our foot in our mouth by lashing out with something, anything, to give the press. Our responses will be measured to stop your crisis in its tracks, not fan the flames with misinformation.
STEP SIX: Constructing Your PR Crisis Responses
Once we’ve gathered all of the necessary facts, we can begin to reframe the narrative surrounding your crisis and refine and develop your strategy. La Brea Media’s PR crisis management team will address what happened with transparency and poise. We’ll make sure to offer calm and considered responses once the necessary facts have been gathered. We won’t make fake promises or false equivalences. Our team can help you take responsibility for your side of the street, while ensuring your message effectively encapsulates remedy and action. Our response will be active, measured, and clear. La Brea Media can hit every channel of distribution at once, making sure that social media, websites, broadcasts, and even blogs all receive the same information simultaneously. If you’re a business, Howard can also personally respond to affected or important individuals in your company, such as employees, shareholders, and stakeholders.
Post-Crisis Management PR
STEP SEVEN: Looking to the Future.
Once your message is out there, we’ll continue to monitor and listen to the media, online and socials. If anything changes or continues to worsen, we’ll be there with iron-clad crisis management, prepared statements, and social media accountability. It can take time for the dust to settle, but once the crisis is over, we’ll be able to accurately look back at the experience to improve business operations and further develop strategies to avoid crises in the future.
What WON’T La Brea Media Do?
We won’t stick our heads in the sand, hiding from the issue. We won’t react impulsively with our crisis communication plan, trying to shift blame onto others to avoid responsibility. We won’t respond too quickly; neither will we respond too slowly. Our responses will be measured and curated to ensure the truth is being told in the most effective manner possible. We won’t leave you hanging.
Helmed by a PR Guru, our PR experts know what they’re doing. When the going gets tough, LaBrea Media is tougher and we’ll make sure things are being handled.
Howard Bragman and the La Brea Media public relations team is on your side.
Don’t walk into the storm alone. Our crisis management firm is here to help.