How to successfully prevent a PR crisis

by | Jun 20, 2017 | Analysis, Public Relations

Recently, I discussed how to properly manage a PR crisis amid company controversy for United Airlines and public outrage towards Pepsi. Since then, a handful of brands and spokespeople have joined them in the hot seat.

Mr. Met, the famous mascot for the New York Mets, recently flipped the bird to fans which, of course, was captured on video and instantly went viral on social media. As if that wasn’t offensive enough, Kathy Griffin shocked everyone when she posed for a photo holding a disturbing prop—President Donald Trump’s decapitated head.

Needless to say, the Mets organization and Griffin are now performing some serious damage control.

Perhaps it’s time for everyone—celebrities, spokespeople, companies, and organizations—to start thinking about their decisions before they offend the public and risk ruining their reputations.

Those who are in the spotlight should be held to a higher ethical standard and need to be accountable for their actions. Here are a few best practices every business and brand representative should follow to prevent a PR crisis:

Establish a code of conduct

The first step is to establish a code of conduct which outlines the responsibilities, proper practices, and expectations of an individual, company or organization. When it comes to a code of conduct, there should be no grey areas. Rules and regulations must be clearly explained and agreed upon to ensure that everyone is in accordance with ethical standards to protect a brand’s reputation.

To effectively manage stressful situations with customers or to appropriately respond to uncomfortable questions from the media, employees and brand representatives should receive proper training.

Be proactive

Unfortunately, it only takes one person to ruin the reputation of an entire brand. Since trust can take years to build and mere seconds to destroy, companies must be proactive and constantly think ten steps ahead.

Strategic planning and evaluations can mitigate PR disasters. Risk assessments can be performed to measure the potential impact of a marketing campaign, endorsement, or new partnership before it is even launched.

Additionally, every company should have a trustworthy team in place—from board members to a PR firm—to run decisions by before they are put into action. Working with partners and staff who are wholeheartedly invested in your brand and business is monumental to success.

Prevention is key

Overall, the best way the survive a PR crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

By following a code of conduct and having a crisis management team in place, companies can be proactive and avoid future faux pas.

As always, social decency and respect for other cultures, religions, genders, and political ideologies is fundamental—whether you are the face of a multimillion-dollar brand or an intern embarking on your first assignment.

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Caroline Vallila

Caroline Vallila is responsible for public relations, social media, and account management at Springboard PR. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations from William Paterson University.

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