You wouldn’t wait until after a car accident to purchase car insurance, so don’t await a business crisis to hire a public relations firm.
Time is a most precious commodity when you are in the midst of a crisis. The process of hiring a public relations firm takes time and should be done when you have the bandwidth to consider several important factors.These include understanding the firm’s experience, culture and staffing, working through budget discussions and a contract, among other considerations. You and your public relations firm should be taking decisive action starting the first day of a crisis, not getting acquainted for the first time.
In addition to critical time lost, it’s often much more costly to hire a firm when a crisis hits, as the firm is obligated to stretch resources and make accommodations for existing clients. Some firms may not be available to work on your crisis if a prior relationship does not exist.
Another advantage of retaining a firm prior to a crisis is having the time available to game-plan potential crisis scenarios. While there is no guaranteed way of knowing what type of crisis will occur, most companies are aware of the types of scenarios that could arise. This provides a much better chance of having practiced the crisis scenario when it occurs or, if not, having planned for a similar situation.
As Ben Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Take those words to heart when considering the timing of hiring a public relations firm.