Essential Rules for Preventing a PR Crisis

The modern-day news cycle means that industry stories don’t stay under wraps for long, and for many brands, it is only a matter of time before they find themselves dealing with one form of PR crisis or another. But wouldn’t it be better to avoid them in the first place?

With the right preparation and planning, there are a number of ways to minimize the likelihood that your brand will be forced to tackle a PR crisis head-on. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your business on the right side of publicity.

Test Your Ideas with Diverse Demographics

Countless PR crises today arise from the tone-deaf language in advertising or social media campaigns. In order to combat this, businesses must be sure to run ideas and copy by a range of stakeholders representing a broad spectrum of potential audiences.

Whether you’re testing against age, ethnic background or gender identity, be aware that even small missteps risk being blown up into a major PR disaster. Invest in the right scrutiny from outset to save yourself a world of trouble.

Assess Your Vulnerabilities

Be sure to conduct a thorough, meaning brutally honest, vulnerabilities assessment to identify the range of scenarios that could threaten your brand’s reputation. For each scenario, map out a strategy for mitigating the risk identified. Determine your position and standing statement.

Should one, or more, of these scenarios unfold in reality, you will be able to avoid guesswork when making your initial steps.

Seat Your PR Reps at the Executive Table

Make sure your PR team is represented at the highest levels of decision making in your company. No matter your industry, PR expertise in your company should be respected as the moral and ethical compass for a range of boardroom decisions. There can be no doubt that a number of very public crises could have been avoided had the PR team been given more of a say.

Adopt Internal Safeguards

Running worst-case scenarios from a PR perspective before they arise is sure to go a long way in anticipating your exposure. Amid plans to launch a new campaign, be sure to take a step back and take a look at your campaign from a number of different perspectives. If your message is confusing and risks creating negative PR, take the message back to the table and make it as clear as possible.

Be Transparent

Perhaps the most important rule of thumb in preventing a PR crisis is to be transparent from the very beginning.

Transparency and accountability go a long way in maintaining high-quality, and high-value, relationships with all manner of stakeholders, including employees, clients, and the media. If you say you are going to do something, make sure you do it.

Moreover, be proactive in your communication in the face of even minor speedbumps. Do this over a sustained period of time, and you will have built a network of trust that will go a long way to cushioning your brand against PR threats.