Why PR Is King During a Crisis

by Staff

Crisis seems to be a part of doing daily business these days. They can arise at any time. They can affect any group of people. And they come in a variety of forms: financial, technological, and organizational. The crisis can be an internal event that adversely affects a business’s staff; it can be an external event that adversely affects a business’s reputation; and it can even be an instance of sexual misconduct or violence committed in or against a person or place of business.

No matter the type of crisis—whether it’s a website hack, a product recall, or a bit of salacious news that leaks into the marketplace (even if it’s not true)—the result of crisis is that it creates discomfort for everyone involved. It erects a barrier to conducting “business as usual” until the crisis can be resolved. Until then, companies can pay a steep price in terms of lost business, revenue, status, and consumer trust. 

Fortunately, in today’s marketplace, there is assistance at the ready. One of the largest roles public relations (PR) currently plays is crisis management … so you never have to face challenging times alone.  

What Is Public Relations?

Public relations is a professional service sector dedicated to building the positive brand image of an individual, firm, or institution by publicizing good news about that entity to generate goodwill and a good name. Essentially, PR specialists are responsible for managing an organization’s public image and reputation. They assist the organization in communicating with its intended audience and seek to cultivate a favorable relationship between the organization and that audience. To accomplish these goals, PR manages and releases information to influence public perception and create an ongoing connection between the business and its client base.

What Is Crisis Management?

Crisis management is exactly what it sounds like: skillfully managing a difficult situation that has unexpectedly arisen within an organization and is disrupting its standard operating procedures in any way, shape, or form. The crisis can be mild, moderate, or severe, and it can, in turn, cause mild, moderate, or severe unwanted side effects. Rather than being an abstract concept, crisis management is actually a concrete process that follows specific protocols and recommendations to lessen the impact of the crisis. It’s critical to get a handle on a crisis before it can elevate further so that additional harm to the organization, its people, output, or stakeholders is mitigated or eliminated. 

Role of Public Relations in Crisis Management

Public relations is king in times of crisis because it offers many benefits and performs integral functions for the organization facing the challenge. Here are some areas of concentration a qualified PR firm will zero in on when a client is in crisis mode.

1. Relations with the Public

Preserving an organization’s good name with the general public is of paramount importance the moment a crisis becomes known. So PR steps in to not just direct but also control the narrative so that the organization’s account of events is not falsified, misrepresented, or blown out of proportion—something that can very easily happen in our modern-day climate of “viral” social media. Public perception of any kind of entity is critical to its current standing in the marketplace and future opportunities, so strategically using channels to access, speak to, and appeal to the public is a principal aim of PR crisis management.

2. Relations with the Media

The most effective and widespread way to communicate how a crisis is managed is intelligent use of the media to spread the word and disseminate the desired messaging. In the context of crisis management, media relations includes any and all measures taken to interact with the press and other forms of media, such as composing press releases, scheduling press conferences, organizing interviews, and publishing responses to the crisis, whether they be attempts to calm or reassure the public, explanations of the facts, apologies for any missteps taken, or statements of accountability and plans for remediation

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

3. Relations with the Community

It’s not just a business’s direct customer base and stakeholders that should be attended to in the fallout from a crisis; the larger community in which the crisis is occurring or has occurred should be given equal attention when repairing damage, reinstating confidence, and rebuilding trust. PR efforts reach out to regions and neighborhoods to improve community relations, which are vital to successful crisis management. Some approaches in this regard include holding public events, hosting charitable activities, and participating in community projects. If a factory experienced a spill, for example, it could hold a city-wide cleanup event, sponsoring the entire event and treating attendees to incentives to participate. Community relations not only emphasize the organization’s presence in that community but work to strengthen its positive impact on that community.

4. Pre-Crisis Preparation & Post-Crisis Follow-up

The best way to manage crises is to avoid them in the first place. Public relations professionals are trained to equip their clients with steps they can take and procedures they can put in place that will lessen the likelihood of a potentially threatening situation from ever growing into a crisis. And after a crisis has either been averted or properly handled, a PR team conducts a post-crisis analysis to pinpoint what went wrong, identify what went right in terms of successfully managing an unfortunate situation, and prepare the client for steps to take in the future if crisis arises again. 

Public Relations for Your Business in a Crisis

PR serves an essential function during times of crisis when people or businesses are ill-equipped to handle it on their own. PR can protect a brand name. It can salvage an image. It can secure decisive press coverage. It can rewrite the script. It can take what seems like bad news and turn it into an opportunity to benefit your business. At its core, public relations is all about nurturing relationships between entities or enterprises and the people who interact with them. And when and if crisis hits you or your business, there is nothing that will be more valuable to you than maintaining those relationships solidly in place.

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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