How to build a PR crisis-management team—before crisis strikes

by | Feb 27, 2019 | Analysis, Public Relations

When a PR crisis hits, that is not the time to start building a response team. You need to have some of those key people in place when the crisis hits, so you can respond quickly and effectively before the situation escalates. To help you with that process, let’s take a look at who you need on your team, and how that team should operate.

The Crisis Communicator

This is the person on your team with the experience and expertise to plan and execute the right response in any kind of PR crisis. Ideally, this person will also exude a calming influence on the team, while knowing how the manage the crisis response narrative.

Key leaders in pivotal roles

When a major PR crisis hits, it’s almost inevitable that the CEO of the company will eventually be involved in some way, whether they are delivering a message, making key decisions, or providing a face for your company’s crisis response.

But who else on your team has the ability to pivot from their day-to-day work and take on a key decision-making role in the crisis response. Ideally, you will have at least two or three of these key leaders.

You need someone who is an accomplished communicator and a clear thinker to help the crisis communicator and the CEO formulate a response. This person will have a proven track record for making smart decisions with limited information on short timetables.

You will also need someone to manage the internal crisis response. Someone who has the authority to control and monitor what your team says and to whom, who can also be a calming influence as they deliver messages from the decision makers to rest of the team.

The Media Manager

At some point in your crisis response, you will need a person whose sole duty is to manage media interest. From moderating social media to responding to media requests and connecting the right messages with the right people, this can be a full-time job in the middle of a crisis.

The Crisis Consultant

When you’re very close to a situation, you can miss details or make assumptions that diminish the effectiveness of your crisis response. That’s why it makes good sense to bring in an outside consultant who specializes in crisis communication. This person or team has a different perspective that can prove invaluable in formulating and executing a crisis response.

The crisis consultant will work with your in-house team to build a narrative and implement a crisis response that should minimize the damage to your brand reputation and put your company in a better position to begin rebuilding credibility.

crisis PR consultant will have an extensive list of key media contacts with whom they have developed good working relationships. When speed really matters, and you desperately need positive earned media, knowing exactly who to call is a vital aspect of an effective crisis response.

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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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