All businesses hope to avoid crises. The truth is, however, that almost all businesses face a crisis at some time or another. Crises can be financial, humanitarian, operational, or legal. Regardless of type, the potential for the crisis to negatively affect your company’s reputation is high. However, by developing a sound public relations strategy, you can coach your executives to respond to the crisis so that your reputation remains unblemished and, perhaps, even improved.
Develop a Plan
To be the most effective, your crisis public relations plan will be developed ahead of the crisis while level heads prevail. Each member of your executive team should understand their responsibilities in the crisis. Some may be designated as company spokespeople. They should know whether to be proactive or reactive in relating to the media and public during and after the crisis. Much of the executive team will be involved in crafting the response, which could include actions and messages. For example, suppose your company manufactures a product that has safety issues. Part of the response might include recalling the product and repairing it free, while another part of your response determines what to say about the oversight. The message should be short, include only the facts, and be truthful. In this case, the message might also clarify that the safety mistake will never happen again.
A smart company will use the same consistent message across all audiences and media, including social media, traditional media, investors, and employees. Coaching those executives who will speak directly to the media, public, or external stakeholders helps ensure they appear confident and stay on message. Coaching executives who will speak with employees also helps ensure a consistent message to all audiences.
About 75 percent of companies who experience a crisis will come out of it with their reputation intact. Many of these, however, do so by contracting for business reputation management services. A reputation management services firm can help with communication during the crisis and fix any reputation glitches that occur from the crisis afterward. The firm can analyze what needs to be done and work with you to develop a plan.
Because many customers do online research before they buy, your online reputation is one of the most powerful marketing assets you have. Any crisis public relations campaign will include online reputation management services. Our online reputation management campaigns include five steps:
During the analysis, we examine search results and determine if they help your company’s reputation or damage it. Then we develop a plan to remove or bury damaging content. We build Websites, social media profiles, and video profiles. We then develop positive content that we distribute across all your platforms, using keywords to optimize this positive content’s rankings in search engines. The plan also includes other ways to promote your content, in addition to an SEO strategy.
You can come out of a crisis with a better reputation than when you went into it. The key is planning ahead and seeking help from experts.