Do’s and don’ts for dealing with your client’s public misdeeds

by | Sep 13, 2022 | Public Relations

It happens all too frequently: a client does something embarrassing, insensitive, or illegal and the news reaches the public. Their reputation is damaged as the public turns against them. Perhaps law enforcement gets involved. This is a public relations nightmare, but there are steps to take to minimize the impact. Read on for three things you should do and three things to absolutely avoid in a PR crisis.

Do assemble a team

Ideally, you create a response team before an incident occurs. A proactive approach allows you to be prepared and better respond to a client’s misdeeds. Selecting a team ensures you can react in a timely manner since multiple people are working on the issue together.

Do create a unified message

Gather the facts of the situation from the team and begin to craft a message. It is essential to gather all the facts in order to create an informed response. If the incident took place in court, for example, you might go directly to a court reporter Sacramento to get the most complete information. With full knowledge of the incident, your team can send a unified message to the public.

The message is the most important aspect of your response because this is what the public will remember after the PR storm blows over. It should be honest and compassionate. Hiding the truth of the situation will only cause more problems.

Do learn from the situation

Every incident is an opportunity to help your client. So, evaluate your strategy to determine what went well and what could have gone better. Moving forward, you’ll have ways to assist your client to prevent similar issues or deal with them more effectively.

Learning from the situation and showing the public that the client has taken action to change their behavior will begin to build trust again. Many of the world’s most powerful billionaires make huge mistakes, but some learn from them and others only continue their pattern of mistakes.

Don’t avoid the media

It is a serious mistake to avoid the press after public misdeeds. Simply giving a “no comment” response will only aggravate the situation because it looks like the client has something to hide. Instead, you can use the media to your advantage by sending out your carefully crafted message through multiple media outlets. Doing so helps give your client control of their own coverage.

Don’t shift the blame

The best response takes responsibility for the incident, sincerely apologizes, and commits to a change in behavior. If possible, your client should try to make amends for their wrongdoing. Any attempt to sidestep accountability will cause the client to lose even more credibility with the public.

This holds true even if there are unfair accusations flying around. Get all the facts and present a message about the event in a neutral tone while avoiding launching allegations against other parties. Pointing fingers is a sure way to bring suspicion onto your client.

Don’t overreact

Unfortunately, misdeeds and scandals come with the territory of being in the public eye. Some mistake or misunderstanding is bound to happen, but a calm and calculated response is the best way to deal with the incident. Allow your client time to process the situation privately to prevent a premature overreaction.

Keep these six tips in mind the next time a client attracts bad press so that you can react to the event with an appropriate message. You can help them through the incident by providing sound guidance and appropriate support. In doing so, the public will remember a compassionate response to an unfortunate mistake.

Kevin Gardner
Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science. He works as a business consultant for InnovateBTS, where he helps companies integrate technology to improve performance. He shares his knowledge and expertise not only with his clients but with his fellow bloggers and readers.