March 2018 Print

President's Report

Delia Taylor, APR

PRAL-BR President

Unfortunately, the news headlines of late remind us that bad things happen without a moment’s notice.  As public relations professionals, it is our job to be prepared for a response in a crisis scenario.

The way you and your business respond to a crisis can either give you a much-needed image boost or significantly damage your brand, ultimately alienating your customer base and business partners.  Especially in this day and age, when news goes viral almost instantly, organizations need to be ready to respond to any PR crisis quickly and efficiently, using all available platforms.

Here are a few golden rules of public relations crisis management that any company should stick to, no matter the issue:

1.Take Responsibility

First off, don’t try to cover up the PR crisis, it will only worsen the damage. Instead, manage the situation by taking responsibility, reacting immediately, and responding to feedback. Acknowledge people’s concerns and questions and respond to the right conversations. Write a press release and post on social media to control the situation and get the message visible.

2. Be Proactive, Be Transparent, Be Accountable

Reputation management matters more than ever and it can be lost in an instant in today’s real-time world of social media . The tenets of any crisis communication are to be proactive, be transparent, and be accountable.  Communicate all relevant details to key stakeholders. When asked to comment never reply with “no comment.” Even if you’re still assessing a situation, simply say that. If you don’t have a voice in the matter, people immediately assume guilt or make their own suppositions. Also, recognize when operational improvements are necessary and be transparent about how you're solving the situation.  Acknowledge the incident, accept responsibility, and apologize.

3. Get Ahead Of The Story

Real Simple – don’t wait to see what else might happen.  Start communicating, apologizing, refunding, recalling, whatever action is needed – NOW! 

4. Be Ready For Social Media Backlash

The worst thing companies can do is ignore the possibility that a firestorm could ignite on social media. Smaller organizations can be more guilty of this, and especially those that are not active on social media. Just because a company is not marketing on social does not mean their customers won't put them in check on those platforms when something goes wrong. Have a plan and review it often.  Monitor the social media forefront for any spikes of negativity of increased activity.

5. Remember To Be Human

Saying “you’ll look into it” doesn’t make anyone feel better. Saying you’re deeply saddened by what went down and will work on making things better is important. Then, immediately share how policies will be put in place so it doesn’t happen again.  Put yourself in the consumers' shoes and ask, "How would I feel if this happened to me?" Looking in the mirror is the best PR advice there is when dealing with crisis situations. It ensures we do the right thing. And right beats spin every time.

6. Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions

It's too easy to be reactive, especially when a company's brand and reputation are at stake. Don’t let the CEO or spokesperson go rogue.  Companies, brand representatives or influencers often provide emotional, frenzied responses. Going silent on social is not a bad thing when you are monitoring a crisis. Freeze all external communication until you can assess what’s going on. Confer with top leaders in the company and your PR team on what is best and move forward with one voice and plan. Be sure that the first external communication following the crisis is a well-thought-out response that resonates with your consumers.

7. Develop Strong Organizational Brand Culture

Prevent the crisis. It's easy to blame frontline employees for recurring viral nightmares, but they’re not responsible for the toxic brand culture that breeds them. An organizational brand culture that treats customers badly likely treats its employees poorly too. Dig deep into organizational culture and service delivery and you’ll find that new lows in brand experience always start at the top.

8. Be Prepared

No one wants to be at the center of a scandal, but scrambling around because you're not prepared to handle it takes things from bad to worse. Anticipate potentials crisis scenarios and establish internal protocols for handling them. Before a crisis hits, outline who needs to be notified, your internal review process and the individuals who are authorized to speak publicly on your behalf.

Delia A. Taylor, APR

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Recent News

PRAL Offers Member Recruitment Incentive

Your guest-who-becomes-a-member can earn you a free meeting and meal

As a member of Public Relations Association of Louisiana, you are encouraged to bring guests to our monthly chapter meetings who are interested in becoming a member.

If you bring a guest, and that guest submits a membership application to PRAL before the next monthly meeting, you get your next meeting free-of-charge. It’s our way of making it as easy as possible to introduce other communication pros to PRAL.

In addition to getting your next meeting free, we will recognize the new members – and you – in a future issue of the PRAL newsletter.  A free meal and good publicity, who can ask for more!

As you know, PRAL has a full calendar of events planned throughout the year – from monthly meetings to workshops to early morning coffee gatherings. Our goal is to offer all public relations professionals an easy way to get involved and further their careers.

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What started as a business run out of the kitchen of a Denham Springs home is now a New Orleans icon. Join PRAL-BR to hear the story from the woman who started it with little more than a few ideas and fewer dollars.

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Click here to register!

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