Crisis Management is a process designed to prevent or lessen the damage a crisis can inflict on an organization and a personality’s image. Public relations practitioners play a crucial role in crisis management. A public relations unit’s goal during a crisis is to get the organization through the situation with as little damage to its reputation, credibility, and key relationships as possible.
As a process, crisis management is not just one thing. Crisis management can be divided into three phases: Pre-crisis- The pre-crisis phase is concerned with prevention and preparation. There are two immediate benefits to this exercise:
- You may realize that some of the situations are preventable by simply modifying existing methods of operation.
- You can begin to think about possible responses, about best-case/worst-case scenarios, etc. Better now than when under the pressure of an actual crisis.
Crisis Response– The crisis response phase is when management must actually respond to a crisis.
Post-Crisis – The post-crisis phase looks for ways to better prepare for the next crisis and fulfills commitments made during the crisis phase including follow-up information.
PR Manages Crisis
For a PR to handle a crisis effectively, he or she needs to be looking around the corner to see what a company’s potential threats and crises are, and have infrastructure set up in advance
Know and engage key conversations drivers early and often. In times of crisis, we need to think about the key influencers following the issue and engage with them to get them information as well.
Actively monitor not just your reputation, but also the activities of your protagonists. Develop clear, effective and platform appropriate messaging. In other words, be where your crisis is happening.
Intelligence gathering is an essential component of both crisis prevention and crisis response. Knowing what’s being said about the client on social media, in traditional media, by your employees, customers, and other stakeholders often allows you to catch a negative “trend” that, if unchecked, turns into a crisis.
Likewise, monitoring feedback from all stakeholders during a crisis situation allows you to accurately adapt your strategy and tactics.
Identify and Train Spokespersons
Categorically, any organization should ensure, via an appropriate policy and training, that only authorized spokespersons speak for it, and this is particularly important during a crisis. Each crisis communications team should have people who have been pre-screened, and trained, to be the lead and/or backup spokespersons for different channels of communications.
Be sure you know what you’re talking about during a crisis. The only thing worse than saying nothing is saying the wrong thing. Yes, you must move quickly during a time of crisis, but that doesn’t give you a reprieve from fact-checking anything you plan to tell the public.
Don’t expect a dispassionate recital of facts to counter anger, fear, or other intense personal perceptions. Facts are often overshadowed by emotion and perception. Respond to emotion with emotion and to logic with logic; don’t try to fight an emotional argument with logic.
Get the crisis resolved and out of the public eye as quickly as possible. It has been seen that the longer an individual or an organization is perceived as being “in crisis” the more negative media coverage and public opinion becomes.