Today on the 5WPR blog we are going to breakdown some tools to help clients work through crisis PR issues.  Throughout our experience with a crisis communications situation PR professional’s have found that a simple, forthright approach to crisis public relations offers the best short- and long-term results. Five steps that are important for any successful crisis PR strategy…

Consult with your Crisis PR agency immediately

When the police want to talk to you, your first call should be to your lawyer. This is not an admission of anything. It is simply the best way to protect your interests, whatever they may be. The same holds true if the press calls. In a crisis situation under no circumstances should you speak to the press without your PR representative present. In fact, you should not speak to anyone until after you have spoken with your PR firm and completed step 2.

Craft a proactive plan

Crisis PR situations do not linger. Things move very quickly and you need to get out in front and stay out in front. When a client calls Ronn Torossian or 5WPR, they are depending on us to help them deal with a very difficult situation. Every crisis PR scenario will be a little bit different. But there is one across-the-board characteristic – stick to the plan. Do that, and “this too shall pass.”

Be readily available

From the moment something negative happens, you are on the clock. People expect a response, and they want it sooner rather than later. You will not be able to outrun that crisis or outwork that crisis. You have to address it head on.

Be honest

Tell the truth as much as possible. This is not a call to reveal every possible detail of everything that may or may not have happened. Answer questions honestly. Be forthright about any mistakes that may have been made. Remember, you should have already crafted a crisis PR plan. Because of this, you can be honest without fear of incrimination or further embarrassment.

But if you do misspeak

If you do find yourself in a situation where you or one of your employees says or does something that reflects poorly on your brand, immediately address it. Apologize. Do not attempt to equivocate, explain or excuse. Own it, apologize and move on. People are much more forgiving of someone who makes an error than they are of someone who attempts to excuse that error. It may be difficult to face the potential public relations fallout in a crisis PR situation. It will only get worse if you come at the situation without a plan, if you deviate from the message or if you offer excuses for the initial mistake. Own it. Learn from it. Move on better for it.