Nowadays, it seems that everyone wants to know everything as soon as possible. This culture of instant gratification pervades everything from social media and internet gossip channels to the national news networks. It has even intruded upon the business environment.
Dealing with the latest generation of users who insist upon instant gratification can be demanding – especially when it comes to public relations in a crisis situation. In addition to actually delivering the requisite information about the incident, PR spokespeople must be cognizant of how the information will impact their companies.
In many cases, these two tasks can actually be mutually exclusive. On the one hand, the facts must be reported for the sake of the shareholders. On the other, the company's reputation must be preserved for the very same reason. It is not a situation that should be handled by amateurs or even by highly placed corporate executives. Here are five tips for what to do in a crisis situation:
1. Make a measured response. Always consider the ramifications before issuing a statement or news release. Your competitors will have a multitude of responses, whereas you only get one chance to reply.
2. Do not respond to gossip. Like the chatter among friends and family, these types of comments are not usually accurate and are actually a “fishing expedition” on the part of the gossiper. Do not give them any more ammunition than they already have.
3. Do not insult or confront opponents. Similarly, there will be many gossipers simply trying to elicit a response from you. When they get it, they will read in all sorts of inaccuracies.
4. Learn to be quiet. Not every comment deserves a response. In many cases, no response is the most resounding one of all. As the old adage goes, “Silence is golden.”
5. Remember your social media. While a regular news release will answer the needs of the traditional media, a more direct interaction is needed to soothe the qualms of your customers on your social media sites.
For more information on the ins and outs of crisis management, contact the PR professionals at Axia Public Relations, who have experience handling crises for major corporations. You may also download Axia's e-book Managing Public Relations in a Crisis for proactive steps you can take to protect your company's reputation.
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