How to Manage a PR Crisis Like a Pro

Posted on February 14, 2021
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Think crisis public relations strategies are for huge companies embroiled in scandal? Think again! Every business needs a crisis PR strategy to protect relationships and to keep business goals on track during unforeseen tough circumstances – like a global pandemic, for example.

That’s why we brought PR masters Dana Dussing Berry, Public Relations Lead at Stone Ward, and Amanda Palm, Communications Manager at Sport Clips, to the table to break down how exactly to manage a PR crisis for #VCWorkshop.

We learned that the key is preparation. If you’re caught suddenly without a plan, mistakes are sure to be made in the scramble. But if you make a plan before the crisis, you will be able to respond quickly and effectively. Building the plan doesn’t have to be daunting, but it does need to be well thought-out.

Here are 3 top-level highlights from the workshop on how to get started with your PR crisis plan, or scroll down to if you want to watch the whole session!

1.Define who will be part of your crisis response team

Make sure you have their contact information ready to go. This will be leaders in the business, the people who manage your communications and media relationships, and – this is key – your legal counsel.

2. Define your vulnerabilities

Sometimes a crisis comes completely out of left field , but in many cases a PR crisis can be predicted and planned for accordingly. Think about how things could go south for your specific business – if you own a restaurant, for example, food poisoning could be a concern. Perhaps someone confuses your glue for a hair product. Once you have your vulnerabilities identified, you can make a plan for addressing them before it even happens. This will save you time and keep everybody from panicking if something goes wrong.

3. Create your plan of how and when you will communicate

Plan out the channels you will use, and create sample statements, news release templates and social media posts. Have it reviewed by your legal counsel and share it with your folks internally. If possible, get your spokespeople some media training so they can handle the press with poise.

There will always be three things to focus on in all of your communication channels during a crisis: Timeliness, empathy, clear statement of facts and speaking proactively about what is being done are critical to leading through a crisis situation and regaining trust.

Remember: Always, always, always tell the truth. If you don’t know an answer, just say so.

This article is our paraphrased recap of just part of our #VCWorkshop on managing a PR crisis. You can watch the entire video of the workshop here, featuring specific advice on how to interact with reporters, tips on being interviewed, examples of good and bad approaches, and so much more!

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