Every now and again we will get calls from organizations that want us to be their crisis PR firm. This is not unusual as that’s one of the services we provide clients, and have for several decades.
What is a bit unusual is that they only want us to be their crisis PR firm. They say they have no need for ongoing marketing and PR, but should a crisis arise, they want to call upon a firm that can jump in and handle the crisis.
When we get these calls, our first question is whether they have a crisis PR plan. They often answer no. So our next question is how does an organization expect a crisis PR consultant to represent them if they don’t know anything about the organization?
Crisis communications is not undertaken in a vacuum. It is not like being an emergency room doctor who can treat a patient when they get sick. An effective crisis PR consultant is one who can provide solid advice because there is little or no learning curve.
This is not to say we haven’t been called in to handle a crisis for an organization that needs us immediately. We have lots of times. But that is different. When this happens and we immediately drop everything to help, we almost always do a crisis plan thereafter and often develop an ongoing relationship.
As mentioned earlier, when these calls come in we first recommend a Crisis Communications Plan. By us doing a plan, we get to know the organization from top to bottom. We meet the people, understand their industry and become aware of their challenges. Next, we often recommend crisis communications staff training. This is a session where we train the internal communications and executive staff in how to handle a crisis and perhaps most important, how to prevent a crisis from happening.
After creating a crisis plan and doing some training, we then have enough information to serve as effective crisis counsel. We know the organization. We know the people. We know what may arise. So if a crisis occurs, we then can jump in and help.