If there’s one skill that is critical for almost all public relations pros, it’s mastering the art of dodging PR disasters. Encountering them is inevitable for those within the industry at some point in their careers. However, some of the pros make it look very easy to manage. We’ve observed some of their great tactics and have put together four ways to avoid them, or at least weave your way around such disasters, without leaving a mess behind.
1. Create a Strong Brand
With so many outlets available for others to speak about your organization, it’s best to make sure you spend time building a credible brand. Brand equity, the positive sentiment that surrounds your organization, can help weather a potential crisis. One effective way to build your brand is to track positive messages across all media types and turn those messages into influential media stories. Since the information is already out there, leverage it and use it to your advantage. Analyzing and promoting positive messages can also give you a better perspective of what techniques to continue practicing. Doing so will help create a good routine that will in turn, help avoid PR disasters.
Also, engage and interact with online users that share all types of social media mentions. Positive ones are great, but appropriately responding to negative ones is a great way to extinguish a situation that could have the potential to turn into a PR disaster.
2. Be Quick and Concise in Your Messaging
As we previously discussed, your organization can receive positive media mentions or negative call-outs. In either case, respond quickly and make sure your response is tailored to the person and his or her experience.
For example, if a restaurant receives a negative Facebook review about a customer who had a poor interaction with a server during his or her anniversary dinner, respond quickly and assure them that the issue is being addressed. Be sympathetic and add important details such as, “We are happy you chose our restaurant for your anniversary celebration. We truly apologize for not providing you with the service you deserve.” If it’s within your means, offer an incentive for them to come back and visit the next time they’re around.
Being personable, kind and generous can go a long way in the PR world.
3. Plan for Every Possible Scenario
Another key way to avoid PR disasters is to build a strategy for all types of possible scenarios. If you’re a hotel and are about to renovate rooms, consider the ramifications of construction noise or paint odors. And if you’re looking into releasing a new logo for a professional sports team, think about possible responses the change will bring up in across the media.
Truth is, when change is made, there are going to be many opinions that can be shared in various ways. Whether comments are shared via in-person reactions or online mentions, outlining answers to possible questions you might encounter is a good way to be prepared for when the questions start to arrive. If you have a hard time coming up with possible scenarios, consider putting together answers to criticism your competitors might say.
4. Monitor Your Online Reputation
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. – Warren Buffett
Buffett definitely hit the nail on the head with that quote when it comes to maintaining an online reputation. The world’s digital advances now provide people with the ability to quickly write about your organization and share it with thousands of people at a moment’s notice.
Avoid falling victim to preventable PR disasters by monitoring your broadcast, online news and social media mentions. Media monitoring is a must for organizations to have a bird’s-eye view of their media relations and reputation.
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Priscilla is the marketing coordinator for Critical Mention. Early on in her career, she developed a passion for marketing, writing and anything within the communication field. During her leisure time, she loves to watch her favorite sports teams and explore new restaurants with friends and family.