Crisis can strike at any time, but businesses and organizations can take precautions to avoid a potentially frightening PR situation.
Plan for Everything
Crises can destroy a business’ reputation – particularly if the business is blindsided and unprepared. Having a crisis communications plan can limit the effects of the situation and protect your reputation.
All crisis situations are different, but a plan can serve as an adaptable guide. The plan can include a timeline for a response and potential messages to send to targeted audiences.
Ensure you’re ready to respond to a situation – whether it’s through traditional media, social media, or through a press release. Keeping a list of relevant talking points can make responding to negative press easier – you can frame the information for the situation, and build off what you already have available.
Monitor the Media – and Don’t Discount Social Media
Negative press can quickly spiral into a full-fledged crisis, but not if you keep an eye on the media.
Using media monitoring technology, businesses can track their media coverage, including where stories are being published and the social media response to them. You can also conduct sentiment analysis – determining if coverage is positive, negative, or neutral.
Social media allows for more voices to contribute to the conversation, so it’s vital for a business to monitor these platforms as well. Reputations have been damaged through social media alone – it’s on businesses to be proactive on these platforms.
Businesses can easily respond to negative posts, tweets, or comments – social engagement can help shift the narrative and gives you the opportunity to tell your story the way you want.
Businesses can receive alerts whenever a story is published – which helps in responding quickly. When you find a negative article, don’t wait for more stories to come out. Reach out to the media outlets about the article, and ensure they have your side of the story.
If you release a statement or combat the narrative, your business can potentially avoid an influx of negative press and limit the effects of the media coverage.
Connect with Your Audience
As a business, you want to ensure you have a strong relationship with your targeted audience. The stronger your reputation among these audiences, the easier it will be to avoid crisis situations.
In today’s digital climate, there is less of a barrier between business and customer. Businesses are seen less as an untouchable entity – customers interact on a personal level with different brands, particularly through social media.
This trend has placed an onus on businesses to become more personal in their communications. Interacting with your audience on these platforms fosters relationships and strengthens your reputation.
Businesses can remain professional while showing a softer side, or offering a behind the scenes look to highlight the human aspect – which makes a personal connection easier.
A strong reputation established through these relationships helps to combat negative press – your audience trusts you and will be more inclined to side with you, rather than what is being reported, or said by a potential opponent.
Businesses that lie to customers or hide information can easily find themselves in a public relations crisis. Working transparency into your messaging and brand can boost your reputation among your audience.
Transparency is imperative when combating negative press. If there’s a rumor about your business, respond in a timely manner and with the most relevant information. Never lie in your communications – this could lead to larger issues in the future.
Even if negative press is true, businesses that tell the truth are more likely to rebuild their reputations and make it through a PR crisis. Transparency can help your business avoid a crisis altogether – if you’re open to customers, there’s a reduced chance of any negative information rising to the surface.
At Sinclair, we know how to help clients carefully navigate crisis situations – protecting their reputations and effectively telling their stories. We can ensure you’re prepared to tackle any situation.