Four steps to crisis PR preparation

One of the most difficult and stressful aspects of the public relations and marketing business is dealing with a media crisis.  But if one works in PR, crisis is inevitable.  Remember, it takes decades to build a good reputation and only minutes to lose it all with a PR crisis.

So here are four quick tips to prepare for a PR crisis.

1)     Create a Crisis Communications team.  This team should include the top person in the organization or company, the PR/marketing head, legal counsel and the person (variable) who may be closest to the crisis itself.

2)     Get the facts.  When a crisis occurs, the first step for the team is to gather the facts.  And I mean quickly.  You can’t respond and act responsibly and strategically if you don’t have all the facts.

3)     Develop a strategy, statements/materials:  Often crises just go away or a problem doesn’t evolve into a crisis.  In that case, be ready, but don’t start sending out materials unless it is part of a well-considered strategy.  You don’t want to publicize a media crisis that hasn’t yet occurred and may very well not.

4)     Act appropriate, cautiously and aggressively.  I know these contradict one another but how you react and respond is dependent on the situation and the facts.  The key is to be ready, and by doing steps 1-3 you will be ready to react and respond.

Last, I would add that in today’s digital world where everything is on video and on the internet, it is impossible to deny reality.  Keep the facts the facts and remember that historically, the biggest crises were cover-ups, not the crisis itself.

Watergate would be a good example.