A lot of PR people will tell you that a successful crisis comms strategy is all in the planning, but in the real world, that isn’t always true. As a marketing team, what do you do when the business suddenly finds itself in the middle of a social media firestorm? Call the PR guys.
A huge part of our role when a crisis emerges is to question and support our clients. Our slightly ‘outsider’ status means that we can approach an issue without any preconceived notions and truly see the wood from the trees – just as the media and the public will.
For this reason, a marketing department can benefit from having a trustworthy PR consultant that it can depend on and that the rest of the business respects. After all, in addition to managing incoming media enquiries, a strong PR team can help the business to address any internal concerns and deal with queries from stakeholders.
Experienced PR professionals can also work with the press, rather than against them, to turn a negative news story in to something more positive – or at least more neutral – in sentiment. They also understand how important it is to protect these relationships for the longer term, and to manage any discussions with tact and diplomacy.
By their very nature, crises tend to occur without any warning. A crisis comms plan can often help the business to structure its response, but in the real world, it’s an honest and open line of communication that will result in success. Mock crises, elaborate pre-crisis strategies and guidebooks are worthwhile exercises and certainly have their place – but hard-won experience is still the most valuable resource in situations like these.