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How to turn a PR crisis into an opportunity for your brand

by | Nov 29, 2022 | Analysis, Public Relations

As a business, not many things hit harder than a PR crisis. A PR crisis can quickly become a full-blown nightmare, whether originating through a social media blunder, an embarrassing product recall, or something more serious.

With various stakeholders to appease and a reputation to protect, it’s easy to get overwhelmed during a PR crisis. But while this may feel like the end of the world, it doesn’t have to be. If you play your cards right, a PR crisis can be an opportunity for your brand.

In this article, we’ll show you the top ways to turn a PR crisis into an opportunity for your brand. No matter if you just build your brand, or you are already growing your brand, this needs to be paid attention to.

Let’s get started.

What defines a PR crisis?

Let’s first start by really defining what a PR crisis is. A PR crisis is an event or series of events that can damage your brand’s reputation.

For example, for a company that sells children’s toys, a PR crisis could happen if one of its products was found to contain harmful chemicals. This would damage the company’s reputation and potentially lead to a loss in sales.

Another example could be a company that is accused of unethical labor practices. This would also damage the company’s reputation and lead to a loss in sales.

7 steps to handle a PR crisis effectively

Let’s now consider how you can turn a PR crisis into an opportunity for your brand.

1. Don’t panic and delay the response

Delaying a response is one of the top PR crisis management mistakes you should avoid. Being proactive is critical when it comes to managing a PR crisis. The sooner you can address the issue, the better.

Delaying your response will only give the media more time to report on the story and potentially amplify the negative coverage.

2. Acknowledge the problem and take responsibility

The next step is to confirm there is a problem. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many companies try to sweep their issues under the rug. Not only does this make you look bad, but it will also make the situation worse.

So, if there is a problem, own up to it. Acknowledge it and take responsibility. This will go a long way in repairing your reputation.

3. Take a step back and assess the situation

Monitoring a PR crisis correctly is essential to manage it effectively. Stepping back and assessing the situation will help you do just that. First, you need to identify the key stakeholders involved in the crisis. This could be customers, employees, investors, or even the media.

Once you’ve identified the key stakeholders, you must assess their main concerns. What are they worried about? What do they want to see happen? Answering these questions will help you develop a plan of action and ensure everyone’s needs are met.

4. Come up with a plan to fix the problem

Once you’ve identified the problem and assessed the situation, it’s time to devise a plan to fix it. This plan should address the root cause of the problem as well as the concerns of the critical stakeholders.

It’s also essential to be honest about what you can and cannot do. Don’t make promises that you cannot keep. This will only damage your reputation further.

For example, if your company is facing allegations of unethical labor practices, your plan could involve any of the following:

  • Improving your employee training program to ensure that all employees are aware of your company’s ethical standards
  • Implementing new policies and procedures to prevent future instances of unethical labor practices
  • Working with an independent organization to audit your company’s labor practices and make recommendations for improvement

If you feel that your company is lacking the resources to handle it, hire a crisis management consulting firm or a digital PR agency to solve the issue.

5. Communicate with your stakeholders

When you have all the facts about what happened, you must communicate with your stakeholders. This communication should include an apology for the situation and a detailed explanation of what happened and what you’re doing to fix it.

It’s also essential to keep your stakeholders updated on your progress. Let them know what you’ve done and what you plan to do next, both in the short and long term.

When communicating, it’s essential to be transparent, honest, and sincere. Leveling up your crisis communication game is one of the best ways to prevent or manage a PR crisis.

6. Learn from your mistakes

Finally, once the crisis has been resolved, it’s essential to take time to learn from your mistakes. What could you have done differently to prevent the situation from happening in the first place? Are there any changes you can make to your policies or procedures to help prevent a similar situation from happening again?

Also, determining who was responsible for the crisis and taking appropriate disciplinary action can help ensure that it doesn’t happen again. By taking the time to learn from your mistakes, you can help prevent future crises and build a stronger, more resilient company.

7. Move on

Remember, a PR crisis is not the end of the world. Yes, it can be painful and challenging to deal with. But if you handle it correctly, you can make the other side more vital than ever.

So, take a deep breath, stay calm, and implement your plan.

Opportunities that can arise from a crisis

Now that we’ve gone over how to turn a PR crisis into an opportunity, let’s look at some positives that can arise from such a negative experience.

A chance to show your company’s values

While everyone can speak about values until they’re blue in the face, a crisis is one of the few times companies have a chance to truly show what they’re made of.

Your response to a crisis can show consumers, employees, and other stakeholders what your company values most. Are you willing to take a stand on an issue? Do you prioritize your customer service, their safety and well-being? Do you appreciate transparency and honesty?

Your actions during a crisis will speak louder than any marketing campaign. So if you want to show the world what your company is made of, a crisis is the perfect opportunity to do so.

A chance to build trust with your stakeholders

In today’s business landscape, trust is more important than ever. And in the wake of a crisis, this is often one of the first casualties.

But if you can navigate the crisis successfully, you’ll have an opportunity to rebuild trust with your stakeholders. You’ll be able to show them that you’re a reliable, responsible, and trustworthy company that can be counted on in tough times.

A chance to improve your organizational culture

Crises have a way of bringing out the best (and worst) in people. And while it’s easy to focus on the negative, there’s also an opportunity to use a crisis as a chance to improve your organizational culture.

If you see employees going above and beyond during a crisis, recognize and reward their efforts.

Moreover, if you see areas where your organization could improve, use the crisis as a catalyst for change.

A chance to showcase your company’s resilience

In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, resilience is key to success. And while it’s easy to be knocked down by a crisis, how you respond will ultimately define your company.

In a crisis, you’ll be able to show your employees, customers, and other stakeholders that you’re a formidable company that can handle anything that comes your way.

Protecting yourself before a crisis hits

While being proactive and turning a crisis into an opportunity is great, the best way to deal with a crisis is to not have one in the first place. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself and your company before a crisis hits:

  • Have a crisis communications plan in place.
  • Monitor your social media channels for warning signs.
  • Keep an eye on your industry for potential risks.
  • Be prepared to make quick decisions in the heat of the moment.
  • Train your employees on how to handle a crisis.

The above ways can protect your company from the potential adverse effects of a crisis.

Conclusion

A crisis can be a scary and daunting time for any company. But it can also be an opportunity to show the world what you’re made of. As such, following the above tips can turn a crisis into an opportunity for your brand.

Remember that your actions during a crisis will speak louder than any words you say ever could. So if you want to show the world what your company is made of, a problem is the perfect opportunity to do so.

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Mike Vestile
Mike Vestil is an author, investor, and speaker known for building a business from zero to $1.5 million in 12 months while traveling the world

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