As a PR and marketing firm that does significant work in crisis communications, people often ask me the best way to preserve their reputation when in a crisis. I wish there was one “best” way that would apply to every situation, but there isn’t. Every organization, situation and crisis is unique.
Of course the best way to come out on top of a crisis is to never get into one in the first place. Everybody knows that, but that’s not how the world works. Most crises situations occur due to no fault of the organization or company. But then again, some do.
The overriding piece of advice I give is to be prepared for when a crisis may occur. The second best advice I give is to allow yourself as much time as possible to think through the situation, consult with your crisis PR team, develop a strategy and then implement at the right time.
I can’t say how many times organizations come to us seeing a difficult situation looming down the road. It could be two, three weeks or a month away. They see it coming, and reach out to us for advice and counsel. Our response is always to begin immediately so we have adequate time to prepare. But it is amazing how many organizations wait and delay to address the issue and put together a plan. People are on vacation, out of town, other matters are given priority. And before you know it, the crisis that was a month away is now tomorrow, and there is no plan.
So first get your crisis team in place, but when you see a difficult situation about to unfold, don’t wait for the day before, thinking your PR consultant will magically take care of it. Yes, we often can work magic, but at least give us some time to polish off our magic wand.