As experts who specialize in creating and maintaining reputations, public relations professionals are often called upon to support a company when disaster strikes. PR specialists know how to change public perception with the right words and marketing campaigns. They also know that aligning their clients with the right strategies can help to alleviate many issues that come with a public crisis.
Disaster management is probably one of the best-known roles of any PR company, but many organizations still don’t understand what this job entails. There’s more to handling a crisis than responding to angry customers and sweeping negative comments under the rug.
1. Offering Advice and Guidance
The first thing any PR expert will do in a crisis is assess the circumstances and offer bespoke advice on what the brand should do to keep the problem under wraps. To provide the right guidance, PR professionals need to evaluate the background of the company, the nature of the current disaster, and the surrounding context, so that they can offer a step-by-step guide on managing the incident.
For instance, a PR professional might let an executive know which audiences they should address first when making a public announcement, which terms they should avoid using, and how they should consider getting their message out to the right people.
2. Handling Press and Media Attention
After an issue goes public, a public relations specialist will start to work more “reactively”. This means that they respond to what’s happening in the media and offer constantly updated advice on how to handle the situation. For instance, they might draft support materials and statements on the behalf of the client so that the company is ready to answer any questions presented by publications or journalists connected to the industry.
On the other hand, a PR professional might take over making statements on the behalf of the business entirely, while simultaneously scheduling meetings and interviews with the right press to ensure that the company comes off in the best possible light. All the while, a PR expert dealing with crisis management will be offering insights on how a brand can maintain the loyalty of their customers, shareholders, and investors.
3. Ongoing Support after an Incident
After the initial crisis has passed, there will still be a lot of cleaning up to do before a company can regain its original reputation. This is the point where a public relations company will start to develop plans to heal the damage that was done during the disaster. For instance, they might create a plan for a marketing strategy that draws more attention to the positive aspects of the brand’s personality.
A PR expert will also set up important press releases and interviews to help take the majority of the public attention away from the incident that happened and assist the company in getting back to “business as usual”. Some PR professionals can even put plans in place that give their clients a strategy to fall back on if a similar incident or issue ever happens again.