When you are building a brand or making a name for yourself, eventually you will have a rough couple of weeks according to Ronn Torossian 5WPR CEO. Worst case scenario, something from the past catches up with you or an honest mistake gets misrepresented. Suddenly sponsors are dropping off left and right even as others call to renew their contracts. Sometimes the logistics make no sense. Quick decisions are made in marketing departments and boardrooms across the country as a myriad of companies tied to your brand choose their fate.

5WPR CEO offers lessons to protect from “gotchas” and mitigate Crisis PR situations

If only you had a Magic 8 Ball of PR. See, public perception and buying habits can look a bit like a ball of yarn. At first it seems rather uniform, one loop over another over another, but a single pull in the wrong place at the wrong time and you end up with chaos.

But, in most cases, it turns out you should have seen this coming. In recent years, there have been many celebrities who have failed to take allegations, issues and PR communication seriously. Maybe they just figured it was no big deal. After all, people aren’t perfect and we have all said and done things we wish we could take back.

People aren’t perfect. But in the world of public opinion, some transgressions are worse than others. An NFL star can smack his girlfriend around and still sell jerseys. Yet in another industry you can lose your career because of something that happened years ago. Who makes these rules? Honestly, it doesn’t matter from a PR perspective.

Torossian says the real question you need to ask is this: “How can I protect myself in a PR crisis?”

Have a plan in place – Make an honest assessment of what could be used against you or certain issues or decisions that may come back and bit you. An honest assessment…the sort an enemy, disgruntled ex-employee or competitor would use to rain on your parade. It could be years before the first shots are fired…but then it’s a barrage. You need to have a plan in place to deal with accusations, slip-ups and mistakes.

Know what you will say – You can’t pull a no-show at scheduled media events. You need to know what to say. Honesty is a good start. The general public has had its fill of disingenuous groveling long since.

Know when not to say anything – Sometimes silence is more protective than explanations. Some mistakes cannot be justified in any case. It can be better just to say: “Nope, no excuses, that was dumb, and it’s no reflection of the person I am.” Then shut it. The pundits may hate you, but they can’t twist your words if you don’t say them.

Know what you can afford to lose – Mistakes, miscues and poor judgment will cost you. And you may not be able to see the price tag ahead of time. But in a crisis, 5WPR counsels our clients to determine what is most important to them, and what they are prepared to fight for. Ideally, you would love for life not to change in a crisis. That’s not realistic.

For help when you need it most, come to the NYC PR Firm that knows how to steer your brand through a PR crisis, 5W Public Relations.