PR is extremely important for any kind of business. The way the company presents itself to the public and how it communicates with its audience directly impacts its brand image — you know this better than anyone as a PR pro. But crisis PR also helps brands communicate with their customers correctly, appropriately, and effectively.
If you’re just starting in PR and aren’t sure how to handle a crisis, here are some crisis PR communication tips you can use the next time you’re in a tough situation.
5 Important Crisis PR Communication Tips You Need to Know
#1 Plan for a Crisis Beforehand
First and foremost, you should plan for a crisis beforehand instead of waiting for it to happen. If you are realistic about the progress of your agency, you should realize that such critical situations are unexpected and can happen when you least expect them to — especially when you’re working with so many clients.
This is why you shouldn’t expect the best but rather the worst – and be prepared for it. By preparing a crisis PR plan beforehand, you are arming yourself with the right tools you need during the crisis to communicate with your client’s audience properly.
To plan for a crisis, you must consider both highly possible and less possible scenarios.
For the former, look at some weaknesses. What could go wrong in your client’s business based on the weaknesses it has? Likewise, look at their niche’s market and its current development. Is there a high probability that a crisis will soon happen?
For the latter, think of the worst-case scenarios that you might need to handle at some point, even if they are unlikely to happen.
Once you know which situations you need to prepare for, you should create a crisis PR plan for each of them. What actions will your agency take, and what will you instruct your client to do? How will you communicate with your team and theirs? How will you communicate with your client’s audience? Create a specific set of guidelines for each situation so that you are prepared for these crises.
Related: Your 10-Step Risk Assessment To Better Protect Brand Reputation Pre-Crisis
#2 Prioritize the Right Actions When Executing Your Crisis PR Plan
Once the crisis does happen, you will already have a plan to follow. If you’re not sure how to create this yourself, you can hire a professional writer from Best Writers Online to create a crisis PR plan for you or help you make one.
In any case, once you start using the plan you created for a specific crisis, it will be much easier to ensure that everything else goes smoothly for you and your clients.
That being said, you may not have a plan prepared for your client’s specific situation. And even if you do have an appropriate plan, you don’t always need to follow it strictly. You can still do things differently from how you initially wanted to act as long as it will be more beneficial to your client that way. You will need to prioritize the right actions, and if the right action is different from what you planned, then you should change your plan accordingly.
To prioritize the right actions, you should first assess the crisis with a calm mind. Don’t overreact – try to think clearly and logically. Once you have sorted your thoughts, you need to respond quickly. Don’t wait too long to communicate with your client and their audience, because the wait can cause chaos. Prioritize the actions that will help you keep your client safe while continuing to focus on their relationship with their audience.
#3 Monitor and Assess Public Sentiment
Of course, you need to be logical when responding to a crisis and communicating with your client’s audience. On the other hand, you should also be empathetic and understand the emotions that everyone is going through — from your client and their audience to you and your team. This is why you need to actively monitor and assess public sentiment to truly understand the thoughts and feelings of your client’s audience and react to them appropriately.
Always be transparent in your crisis PR communications. This doesn’t mean that you need to disclose absolutely everything going on during the crisis, but you should keep your client’s customers informed about how your client will proceed. It is a way for you to build trust and loyalty while also addressing any questions customers have during the crisis.
Similarly, you should always put the victims first. If anyone is suffering during the crisis, you should prioritize them. Don’t try to play the blame game and find a scapegoat. Instead, look for solutions and ways to help all those in need. In other words, focus on the positive instead of the negative. That’s the only way to survive the crisis.
#4 Work with People and Use Crisis PR Tools
When you communicate during a crisis, there are two key elements you should consider. One – your human resources, and two – your technical resources. Your team will work with your clients to execute the communication while using specific tools to do so efficiently. It is important to use both of these types of resources instead of relying on only one of them.
Your team should be trained to communicate correctly during different types of crises. If you don’t have enough employees in your team to manage everything, you can outsource some of the tasks to your client’s team or contractors. For example, you can hire an experienced writer from Writing Judge to create a press release specifically for this critical situation you are in.
At the same time, don’t forget to use the right tools. These can be channels for communication (e.g. social media, email, website), tools for content creation (e.g. grammar checker, graphic design tool), or tools for task management (e.g. calendar or scheduling tool, project management tool).
Related: Be A Storm Chaser – 3 Ways To Successfully Navigate A PR Crisis
#5 Learn from the Crisis and Its Aftermath
Last but not least, don’t forget to learn from the crisis and its aftermath to handle future crises more effectively and efficiently. Don’t let your guard down once the crisis is over. Instead, assess your actions, the status of your client’s business, and the current public sentiment.
Consider any mistakes you made and how you can avoid them in the future. Think about what worked successfully and how you can use these practices in a future crisis. Always aim to improve your communication skills to keep your crisis PR strategy up to date in the long run.
All in all, reacting correctly during a crisis and communicating with your client’s audience is essential for maintaining their good image and your agency’s reputation. Use the tips in this article to help you expertly build your crisis PR communication strategy and execute it efficiently.