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Surviving a PR disaster is a preparedness plan away

Toyotas and aspirin and lettuce! Oh my! These days, everywhere you look something else is being recalled. What is a company in crisis to do?

First, take a deep breath. Second, be glad you have a crisis preparedness plan in place.

You do have one, don’t you? You should. Mid-calamity is not the time to start developing one. Take advantage of today’s peace and quiet to prepare for tomorrow’s potential disaster.

And, be sure to consider the following when developing your company’s plan:

  • Act quickly and take responsibility to “contain” the crisis.
    • Your organizations will be on trial during the early stages of a crisis. If you wait for every last fact before taking action, you will be convicted in the “court of public opinion.”
  • Ensure your actions are consistent with your mission and values, and don’t forget to show empathy for what has happened.
    • Organizations in crisis too often focus their communications on the minutiae of the crisis, event timelines, etc. and forget to share feelings (regret, sadness) about what has happened to critical audiences as a result of the crisis.
  • Review your organization’s history to find prior damaging occurrences (similar past events, active litigation, etc.) that could be dredged up or leveraged for greater impact during the current crisis.
    • Agree on how you’re going to address questions about this history, the impact it has on the current event or what it may suggest (i.e., the company did not sufficiently address a past problem).
  • Use the media – traditional and new media – as information resources and communication vehicles.
    • Both media and online resources can help organizations reach critical audiences quickly with a message about the crisis or can help correct damaging misinformation before it has any significant impact.
  • Make time for media and online monitoring as well as monitoring for feedback from audiences with which you are communicating.
    • Listen to what’s being said about your organization’s response to and communications about the crisis – this information may prompt valuable adjustments to communications strategy and messaging.
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