By Andrew Blum
If you are in PR long enough, sooner or later you will have to deal with a crisis. Imagine if you were PricewaterhouseCoopers during the Oscars. Would you have been ready to respond to a colossal mistake seen by millions worldwide?
Every crisis won’t be that big or play out on live TV and explode on Twitter. But all crises have a few things in common. Reacting quickly is essential. Here are four things you can do in advance to be prepared.First, have a crisis PR plan.You can’t deal with a crisis on the fly, that’s a recipe for disaster. Once you have a plan in place, update it as needed. Test it out, have crisis drills to see how it works and tweak it accordingly.Second, have a crisis PR agency among your contacts, and be ready to hire one as soon as a crisis rears its head.
You or your client may be great at day-to-day PR, but crisis PR is a specialized skill. Find the best crisis agency that fits your need. Have a budget for it – this doesn’t come cheap.
Third, immediately sync your social media team with your crisis messaging. Social media is the key to dealing with a crisis today and must be an integral part of your plan.Fourth, your entire communications and executive team needs to know the crisis drill inside and out. Also loop your lawyers in, they may be needed as well.
Being prepared is imperative. When the inevitable crisis hits, you can’t scratch your head and ask, “What should we do?” You’ll need to know what to do – there is no time to try out ideas – and trust your crisis plan.
Crisis may be unavoidable, but blundering your reaction to a crisis can be averted with the proper planning and preparations. Good luck!
*Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms