Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
A good crisis management strategy will help you educate your audience and retain brand trust. Convention PR tactics might push you towards keeping a low profile and focusing on internal issues, however this may not always be the best way about a crisis situation. While it’s important to keep your cool and not make any rash decisions, it’s also important to engage your audience and the media so that everyone is on the same page. Here are a few tips on how to manage media relations when things are going sour:
Make the best use of your industry media contacts
In the event of a crisis, it’s crucial to use the relationships you’ve built with industry media contacts. They’re the ones who understand better than most your industry and how your organization fits into the industry at large.
You will be thankful that you don’t have to go through the whole process of explaining your company and your industry, especially when you’re already spending so much time trying to mitigate a crisis. If you’re working in a complex industry that deals with a lot of regulatory issues, then they’ll help you tell the story in a clear way.
Use these contacts to educate general interest reporters. It’ll help them play catch up with your industry. This is why having strong relationships with prominent journalists that cover your industry is so important!
Start building a brand voice from day one
Make sure you are focused on building your brand voice from the get-go, so it’ll come in handy when you need it the most. The importance of having consistency and authenticity couldn’t be stressed enough – even in a crisis. Be vigilant in keeping everyone in the organization on board with the brand messaging, especially those in the spotlight.
Consistency in brand voice during a crisis will drastically improve optics and help you retain trust when it’s the most important. Communications should never be an afterthought – it messes up the entire brand narrative. Instead, create communications that is consistent with your company reacts and what its values are.
Delegate talking points in your crisis plan
Even if you have a media spokesperson, there might be many voices and people involved during a crisis. Therefore, when you make your crisis plan, have people across the company prepared with what to say in different situations. A document that reads ‘if X happens then X’ is all you need to make you seem calm and organized when your organizations speak on your crisis to the press or public.
This document should be fluid and always evolving, since there can be many different variations of a crisis. What’s important is there is a clear and consistent message being sent out that is in line with the brand’s values.
Additionally, having such a plan in place will help you improve the speed in which you deliver messages externally, and we all know that speedy responses can make all the difference in a crisis.
is CEO of leading US PR agency 5WPR.
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