Crisis management is probably one of the more exciting divisions of public relations. It’s one of the few times where adrenaline is pumping, mass messages are fired off in a panic, and the chances that everything will be fine and everything will turn out terribly are evenhanded. As one may imagine, it isn’t an easy experience, but it is also one of the most rewarding. Crisis PR isn’t for the faint of heart and requires a great deal of common sense, stealth, and grace – elements that some may have, but few possess all at once.
The real question is this: with something as unpredictable as a crisis, how does one go about tackling an issue? Clearly, the blueprint will vary every time and a one-size-fits-all solution won’t ever be the proper approach. The good news is that there is a great dose of hope for the younger crowd newly entering PR as a career. Specifically because, as products of the 90s or a time period thereabout, all of the advice they’ve ever needed was right on the television. The most beneficial tricks and tips were offered to us 90s babies via our favorite shows.
Figure it Out: The first step in a crisis is to mull through the details and pull out the main problem to be solved. Although there may seem to be a million issues under one blanket, find the preliminary issue that will affect the organization the most. Nipping this problem in the bud will slow down the smaller issues to a degree, giving you more time to diffuse them one by one. Prioritize the remaining issues so you know the order to address them in.
CatDog: Just know there are two sides to every story. Although you may be convinced that your organization is not at fault for whatever is going awry, you have to think in terms of the opposing opinion. By thinking about why the crisis could/will give your organization a negative image, you are more capable of finding a solution. If you see your organization as perfect, you’re less likely to pursue the problems as aggressively, and thus, less effectively.
(Don’t move like it’s) Turtle time: One of the largest differences between every day public relations and public relations in crisis is the pace at which it is executed. Crisis PR finishes in days, and sometimes hours, what daily PR may work weeks or months to produce. Time is not only money, but it is reputation. The faster a plan is put in motion, the higher the chance of success.
Rugrats in the Press: Don’t let the media get to the story before you have a good chance to put out your side. This usually happens if someone ignores the previous tip. When they get some information, they will surely sensationalize it and make it more difficult to extinguish the problem. You can best navigate the situation’s outcome by controlling the message they receive.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? “What happens in the dark will eventually come to light,” so it’s best tell all and tell it first. Try not to withhold important details that could tarnish your organization’s reputation should they be released. The way you decide to reveal it is up to you, and that’s a power that is invaluable.
Who knew that all of those hours glued to episode after episode of shows like KaBlam! would actually be constructive in the end? Guess our parents were wrong when they said we should go read a book instead.