Recovering from a PR nightmare: 11 steps brands and businesses can take

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Analysis, Public Relations

No matter how big or small your business is, at some point, you’re going to face a public relations crisis. A PR nightmare is a scenario where something that was supposed to go smoothly goes wrong. It’s often the result of poor planning and can be caused by everything from an accident to a scandal.

A PR nightmare is the last thing any company wants to go through. However, what can you do if it happens? How do you recover from a PR nightmare? This article will discuss the steps a business can take to rebound after a PR nightmare and get back on its feet.

Recovering from a PR nightmare: 11 steps brands and businesses can take

1. Admit that you made a mistake and be honest

The first step to overcoming a PR nightmare is making sure you take responsibility for what happened. The more you try to dodge blame, the worse it’s going to be. If your company made a mistake, apologizing “unreservedly” is the first step to turning things around. Everyone makes mistakes, but what matters most is how you act on them.

Don’t blame others for what happened—own up to your mistakes instead. It’s essential to explain why the error occurred. This is where honesty comes into play—if your company was careless, own up to it. People will respect your honesty.

2. Get informed about how others have handled PR nightmares

One of the best ways to overcome a PR nightmare is to learn from others who have been there before. Please take a look at how other companies handled their PR nightmares so you can avoid similar mistakes and know where to focus your efforts.

3. Keep your communication straightforward

If you want to ensure your business stays afloat after a PR nightmare, keep your actions and communication as straightforward as possible. There’s no need to overcomplicate things or make them more dramatic than they need to be. You’re only going to end up hurting your company more by communicating inconsistently.

4. Get your facts straight

Once you’ve apologized, it’s time to start collecting the facts of the incident that occurred. The more information you have about what happened, the better equipped you’ll be at finding a solution. You might need to think outside the box, or even destroy the box.  Whether it’s an employee mistake or a product defect, you’ll need to take the time to figure out what went wrong and how you can prevent another setback in the future. To do this, you’ll need to investigate the issue and ask questions. A big part of this process is interviewing those involved. This way, you’ll be able to accurately determine what went wrong and how you can fix it.

5. Address your audience

If your PR nightmare was caused by something external, like a competitor or accident, you should be doing everything you can to control the damage. You should write a press release about what happened and your proposed fix, which will let your customers and other people know that you are addressing the problem head-on. If your PR nightmare was caused by something internal, like an employee mistake, it’s equally important to reach out to customers. The sooner you tell people that you’re taking steps to fix the problem, the more likely they are to remain loyal.

6. Decide on a plan of action

After you’ve figured out what went wrong, you need to decide on a course of action that addresses the issue. If your entire product line is flawed, you need to start from scratch and ensure the problem never happens again.

7. Implement your fix

After you’ve figured out how to fix the problem, it’s time to implement the solution. This might be as simple as replacing a faulty product or hiring new expertise. Whatever it is, make sure you’ve got a plan in place to ensure the issue is resolved as quickly as possible.

8. Keep things in perspective

Since a PR nightmare can be brutal, getting caught up in the details and forgetting the big picture is easy. It’s important not to lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish here. If your business makes mistakes from time to time, that doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or that your company is doomed to fail forever. You can get through this, but don’t let it distract you from the bigger picture of what’s going on.

9. Communicate your fix

Finally, update your audience on what you’ve done to resolve the issue. Let people know what you did and how it’s going to make a difference in the future. This way, those who choose to stick around will be excited about what’s to come.

10. Look for the silver lining

Now that you’ve taken steps to recover from your PR nightmare, it’s time to look at the bright side. No matter what happens, there is something good about the situation. Maybe you learned how loyal your customers are or discover how your competitors are better than you thought. Perhaps you learned something about your product or found a better solution to the problem than you could have done before. No matter what happens, there’s always a silver lining in every situation, and it’s essential to find it and build on it to recover.

11. Reflect on what happened and prevent future errors

Now that you’ve recovered from your PR disaster, you need to figure out how to prevent it in the future.

Do everything in your power to minimize future errors from happening again. Implement new policies and procedures that will help prevent these types of mistakes from happening. Did an employee make a mistake, for example? Acknowledge that you’ve listened to your employees and implemented new training programs. Did an accident happen? Make your facilities safer Look at how this PR nightmare affected your business, what you learned, and plan for the future with everything you’ve learned in mind.

Wrap up

In business, things happen that are beyond your control. But, no matter what caused it, if you find yourself in this situation, you can take the steps mentioned above to ensure your business survives unscathed. If you apologize sincerely and make a genuine effort to turn things around, you can win back customers and sustain your business for years to come.

Amrapali Rai
Amrapali Rai is a digital marketing consultant who blogs about business and marketing at Bazaar Expert.


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