Merrick, NY—Last week, we discussed four tips for getting good local PR for your business. In PR jargon, that’s known as proactive PR. This week, we’ll address reactive PR, otherwise known as crisis PR, or what to do if you have to mitigate reputational damage as quickly as possible. (Image: TheWrap.com)
Your jewelry company may never have a crisis needing public resolution and fast-acting PR efforts. A full-blown crisis, professionally or personally, can permanently damage your business, even if it seems a low-risk scenario today. But like an emergency fire escape plan—something else you hope you never need to use—it’s best to be prepared in advance because when emotions are running high in the middle of a reputational crisis, you’re in no frame of mind to figure out a good damage-control strategy.
Related: 4 Tips To Getting Good Local PR
Remember these recent PR nightmares? United Airlines dragging a passenger off a plane. Carnival Cruises’ captive passengers with no plumbing? The Samsung phones that caught on fire? (Here’s a list of eleven PR nightmares.)
According to a 2017 report, nearly 20% of customers may be hesitant to purchase high-cost items from brands that have experienced negative press. If the worst should happen, let’s take a look at the things you can do to mitigate the damage should it occur.
Step One: Plan Ahead.Who would you turn to in case of a crisis? Likely valued employees as well as a professional PR firm, possibly lawyers, and local connections that can help. Make a list with contact info. Just having a basic plan in writing can be a place to start if the worst should occur.
Step Two: Handle the Fallout Correctly. Your company’s spokesperson (you, a valued employee, or an outside helper, etc.) needs to immediately:
It’s important to actually, sincerely do these three steps. Don’t waffle, don’t misdirect, and don’t make excuses. Be genuine. If you can’t (for whatever reason) then you should consider turning the entire handling over to a PR firm or someone who can help get you on track.
If you can do these things, you have a good shot at recovery. But if you get called out again for the same issue, it’s going to be much harder to recover a second time (or worse); avoid that at all costs.
In his recent presentation at the Plumb Club breakfast in Las Vegas, noted business author Shep Hyken said “moments of misery” are inevitable in a business, but how they’re handled can inspire confidence.
Step Three: Move On. After you’ve handled the fallout, step back out of the limelight and put your head down and get to work on your future. If you’ve handled the fallout well, this part won’t be hard. As time passes, it will be less of an issue and you can hopefully move forward with your customer base.
You’ll also need the right mental state to move on – be forward-looking and thinking as you move out of the crisis.
Here are a few other factors to consider:
1. Don’t Go Negative! No one wants to hear “it’s not my fault, it’s X’s fault.” If you’ve made a mistake and want to clear it up and move forward, don’t deflect. Accept responsibility and move on. If an employee made the mistake, you’re still the boss—acknowledge it shouldn’t have happened, accept the responsibility, and set about making it right with the customer. Deal with the employee separately; throwing them under the bus only makes you look worse.
2. Offer ‘No Comment’ When Appropriate. Keeping the Step Two fallout criteria in mind, if the best comment is none, use it. It’s fine to say no comment if, in fact, you have no comment. Don’t be goaded into making one if it’s not going to help your case.
3. Get the Timing Right. Clearly this is easier said than done. Generally you won’t know until after if you hit the timing right or not, but do your best to mentally zoom out and look at the big picture. Trying to see the entirety of an issue can help you figure out if this the right time to speak up or wait.