5 Steps to Planning for Effective PR Crisis Management
Whenever something happens in the news that impacts your business, either positively or negatively, your company has an opportunity. Today’s marketing department needs to have a real time mindset to be able to react when news occurs according to David Meerman Scott, whose latest book, Real-time Marketing and PR was just published. (His earlier book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR is part of my Social Media Resource list.) Further since all kinds of things happen unexpectedly, it’s important to have an up-to-date crisis management plan in place.
To this end, here are five points to help you develop a flexible crisis management plan because, without the ability to quickly mobilize the appropriate staff and other resources, the crisis can easily escalate beyond the level necessary. Here are my recommendations:
- Have listening and/or social media monitoring tools in place. These analytical instruments can provide critical information regarding how prospects, customers and the general public are reacting to and talking about your brands and/or company. It’s important to pay attention when the tone and content of the conversation changes. Scott recommends incorporating company data analysis that monitors the combination of social media activity with real time news and website and other company related volumes.
- Need to have the appropriate personnel plugged in across your organization. This group must work together as a team both internally and externally. This includes senior executives and their assistants, human resources, legal, marketing, customer services, PR or marketing communications, technology, website support, investor relations (if your firm is publically traded) and customer facing jobs like retail and sales. There must be a list of electronic as well as voice contact information, including off hours contact numbers.
- Create a process to enable people, especially senior management and PR, to react quickly regardless of the day and time since crises can happen on holidays or weekends. Further, there should be an understanding of how decisions will be made and whose approval is needed.
- Have a relationship with an outside crisis management or PR firm to help support your efforts during a crisis. This decision should be made before a crisis occurs to allow sufficient time to line up a qualified firm. As part of the RFP process, make sure to find what they’ll do in the event of a crisis. Who do you contact? Who will do the actual work? Since there’s good chance that this will be high profile, you probably don’t want a new hire answering your CEO’s questions on Saturday night. What type of response turnaround can you expect? Who can they give as references? You want to talk to clients who have had a crisis that the firm handled. How involved are they in reputation management and social media? Do you feel that you can work with them?
- Review the plan regularly to ensure that staff members are aware of their responsibilities and know who to contact. Update your lists as people leave and join the firm. While this sounds obvious, like fire drills, staff may not consider this important until there’s an issue.
When it comes to crisis management, it always pays to “Be prepared”. This will help you to stay ahead of most adverse news.
If you’ve any suggestions you’d like to share, please add them in the comments section below.
Photo credit: Jon_Marshall via Flickr