Your role in a crisis is critical if you are a PR practitioner. One of your primary concerns is providing expert counsel to the CEO about the organisation’s public response. It would help to consider the appropriateness of the information shared during and immediately after the crisis. If you share too little, you may raise suspicions. Divide too much, and you could create severe liability for the organisation.
Crises are a reality today, and you must anticipate them. While some are undoubtedly horrific, you can manage them through crisis communication. Given below are some rules to follow while creating a strategy:
Create a detailed contingency plan that outlines every conceivable crisis and appropriate response. Contingency plans are time-consuming and painstaking. However, these plans save critical time and resources when faced with a crisis. It is smart business to have an action plan quickly implemented by every executive, communications, and operations team member in a crisis.
Speed is key
It is imperative to acknowledge crises immediately. You may not have all the details for days or weeks, but a prompt announcement to the media and your key public will minimise speculation and rumour and let audiences know you are in control. Another solution to reporting a crisis is creating a robust crisis management plan that you can use to tackle it.
Be responsibly transparent
Be upfront, take responsibility, and tell the truth in crisis planning. Never engage in cover-ups, deceit, or unethical behaviour of any kind. Remember, bad behaviour finds its way to the headlines. What you share is critical, but it must always be the truth. Never assume, make blanket statements, or point the finger of blame. While truth-telling is mandatory, you do not publicly assume responsibility for a crisis.
Avoid ignoring important questions
It is never acceptable to say, “No comment,” when asked about the organisation’s status during and after a crisis, as it conveys guilt, fear, and shirking of one’s responsibility. Instead, you can think for a minute before answering and come up with a prompt response. This way, you save your reputation from tarnishing and gain people’s faith.
PR practitioners often develop and spearhead the organisation’s response, including speechwriting for the CEO, managing news conferences, preparing media responses, reassuring internal and external audiences, and consulting with the executive team and board of directors during crises. Everyone turns to PR executives and reputation management experts for advice, guidance, and direction.