Written by Diana Bridgette
PR Nightmares are just that…nightmares! As you navigate through your career, it is impossible to circumvent the unexpected PR crisis. Like any storm, a crisis can arrive at any time without warning, upheaving your schedules, campaigns and media relationships. These storms often bring tension, confusion and a brief moment of “…WTF???”
It happens! The great thing is that you are intelligent, equipped and professional to weather this. As a novice, your first reaction may be that of panic simply because all eyes are on you to fix the situation. Don’t panic! Stop watching those who are watching you. Take clear control of that ship, delegate and steer your team and client to safety.
I can recall a crisis in my career in which a talented fashion designer was to make an appearance at an event. The organizers of the event were not organized causing my client to be unsure if attending the event was worth his time. I am sure that you have interacted with the demanding event organizer that could have taken a few courses in event planning. Two nights before the event was to take place, a conference call amongst all of the key players took place. Lodging and ground transportation was still an issue. The logistics of the event had not been ironed out. Bickering and finger-pointing took up most of the phone conversation.
I was honest with my client.
The event was to raise money for children’s charity. Of course, my client did not want to disappoint. What did he do? He left the decision of his attendance in my hands. Talk about pressure! If my client did not attend, he could be seen as unsupportive to his community. If he did attend and the event was a disorderly mess, this would make him side-eye my judgments and potentially be a waste of time. In the end, my gut just did not let me rest. I knew that this was not a good fit. In the end, I respectfully pulled my client from the event with relationships intact.
Follow your intuition. A crisis can become tricky and convoluted with the opinions of side-liners. You are the professional!
I can not tell you that PR storms are not rocky and won’t shift from hour to hour, sometimes minute to minute. However, you can be successful in transitioning your client out of this. Here are three tips to consider:
1. Be honest with your client
In times of crisis, no one wants to be baited into unrealistic outcomes. Your client may not like the truthful reality of what is being presented but will appreciate and respect your honesty. Also, in being honest, it means that you have looked at the crisis from all angles and perspectives. You have been thorough in your analysis and research of the critical points. Your client is looking for solutions. When you present the truth, you can properly present your strategy and execute accordingly with trust and confidence from your client.
2. Listen to your gut!
Your gut never lies to you. Follow your intuition. A crisis can become tricky and convoluted with the opinions of side-liners. You are the professional! You were hired for a reason. Stand true to your convictions on how to maneuver your client safely with as little damage done to the reputation as possible. Trust yourself!
3. Spin the story if possible/ Get in front of the narrative.
In order to do this, you will need complete transparency from your client. Once you have all of the facts, use various angles to benefit the client. I am not suggesting tall tales. I am saying that there is always a silver lining in the clouds. Find the silver, utilize your media relationships and get ahead of the story. It is very hard to catch up to a rolling ball with steam.
Diana Bridgett is an entrepreneur, author, freelance publicist and ghostwriter. With over 10 years in the industry, she has crafted digital campaigns, strategic partnerships and connected client brands to new audiences. Outside of public relations, Diana is an author of two novels. She is a lifestyle reporter and non-fiction ghostwriter. When she is not working, you can find her spending time with her husband and three children or on a treasure hunt at her local flea market.
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