Once the storm has passed, it’s tempting to want to put a PR crisis behind you. But while operations have returned to normal, the truth is your company now exists in a new normal. How do you navigate this territory? Here are three key questions to ask yourself as your brand recovers.
How bad is it?
Time to figure out the extent of the damage. While coverage may have peaked months ago, negative news has a way of being rehashed—so be prepared to see the issue linger whenever your brand’s name appears in the press. Create a detection strategy and remain diligent about tracking mentions. If monitoring isn’t already part of your daily routine, it needs to be: sign up for alerts, scour discussion boards and use online tools to keep tabs on traditional or social media mentions.
Sifting through vast quantities of news coverage can be cumbersome, but it doesn’t have to be: third-party organizations can do the legwork for you on a daily, monthly or quarterly basis. Media analysis reports can then provide further insight into exactly where your reputation stands.
How can you rebuild?
Consider a range of possible initiatives to win back the public’s trust. David Weiner, Senior Partner at National Public Relations, says “an entire arsenal of public relations techniques can be called upon, from media relations, internal communications, and thought-leadership initiatives to comprehensive corporate social responsibility programs.” How will your messaging change for the next while, and what types of advertisements can you run that will address the public’s concerns? Make your efforts sincere and make them known.
Consider conducting opinion surveys or media sentiment analysis to measure your campaign’s success, and if attitudes have changed towards your company.
What have you really learned?
The one silver lining in a crisis is that it can pinpoint weaknesses in your organization. What led to the problem and what might lead to other issues in the future? Do an in-house brainstorming session for other worst-case scenarios. Some in the field suggest that you “treat your crisis communication plan like a living, growing organism.” Evaluate lessons learned and update the plan. Going forward, will there be changes in your crisis team or spokespeople? Do they need further training? Did any processes or protocols go off track? How will your media policies and procedures change in the future?
It takes years to build a reputation and an instant to destroy it. Patience, hard work and an eagerness to learn from your mistakes will make the long road to recovery more manageable.