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4 essential PR and crisis comms lessons learned from a year-long pandemic

by | May 21, 2021 | Analysis, Public Relations

The global pandemic has had a big impact on every single industry, and the businesses that managed to continue operating likely used PR and marketing strategies. PR professionals have learned plenty of lessons over the past year, including the importance of transparency and authenticity.

Truth and honesty

One essential tip in terms of crisis PR & communications is being honest and transparent with the public. Some more recent examples include the Amazon workers and their bottles situation, as well as the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the shrimp tails incident. Both of these situations quickly devolved into potential crises, especially given the fact that official responses from both companies only added more fuel to the publics’ reactions and outrage.

Instead of launching internal investigations to clear up what really happened with the public, both of these companies managed to put out responses that created even bigger messes. That resulted in both situations going viral and being covered by mainstream media outlets. Marketers should take note of these situations and clearly communicate the importance of false claims and misinformation for brands, and the requirement that they be quickly addressed.

Speaking in absolutes, sending a wrong message, or being dishonest can quickly result in a PR crisis for companies, especially when they miscalculate the potential seriousness of an issue. Instead of taking risks, it’s best to practice good crisis management and be honest.

Newsworthy opportunities for thought leadership

The practice of a company positioning itself as an expert on a certain topic and providing  insights or comments on a news cycle trend is thought leadership. This is a relatively simple strategy in public relations that can place the brand as an industry reader and an expert on specific subjects.

To do this effectively companies have to be monitoring news stories continuously. The easiest way to do that is to set up Google alerts for topics that are relevant to the brand’s industry, as well as to follow relevant topics on Twitter.

Crisis plan

After a chaotic twelve months, the reasons for having a PR crisis plan should be relatively obvious. Between poor product and service reviews, live broadcasts of consumer problems , and public health emergencies, the world has managed to create online trends almost instantly with social media platforms.

Having a PR crisis plan is the best way for companies to manage and mitigate these types of crisis situations, and to take control of the public narrative before it gets a chance to devolve into a PR crisis in the first place.

Demographics and SEO

Finally, another major lesson from the past year has been the importance of companies keeping track of their demographics and improving their SEO for better organic visibility. Demographics are important for digital efforts ranging from content strategies to PR and marketing channels. SEO is also important for PR, and marketing strategies as well as for meeting the consumers where they already are.

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Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations: 5WPR is one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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