PR Crisis is a form of bad publicity that may negatively affect the optimum operational capacity of your company.
Such a PR crisis may go beyond the control of the marketing or PR team, and to resolve such issues, company leaders and management may be required to get involved.
So, in the purest form, the PR crisis can be understood as a black mark on your brand, industry or niche, and that is why it is essential to understand what it is, different scenarios when it may occur and how you can resolve such crises.
In this article, we will delve into the world of PR Crisis and decipher different concepts that are relevant to running a successful business in today’s time.
But, first of all, let us understand what PR is- so, without whirl-winding anymore, let us come to the point straight away-
What is PR pr Public Relations?
Any business is set up with the hope of making it reach the most excellent height and incurring huge profits through the products or services provided to the clients.
A business is made up of various aspects like the nature of product or service, its client base, the turnover expected and many more. Hence, one needs a business plan in place to achieve all these things.
An essential factor is the quality, efficiency, and design of the product or service being provided.
We must remember that only the best quality sustains the tides of time and trials in the market. The product should necessarily be designed and developed by considering the requirements of the client and trying to fulfill them to the best of the capacity.
The second most important factor is marketing or publicity. We need to promote a product based on its plus points and usage. This is where the PR comes into the picture.
PR stands for Public Relations.
As mentioned earlier, the public which constitutes of clients, customers, and the overall population is an essential part of a business.
The company can promote the product among these groups and facilitate better business.
The PR circulates the information about an individual, company, product or service among the masses by using the correct ways and means.
Now, as you have become aware of what PR is and how significant it is for the sustainable presence of a brand in the market, let us now have a look upon the concepts of PR crisis-
What is PR Crisis?
As PR implies the use of resources to establish a good reputation in the public eyes, a PR crisis means the beating taken by the status of the company.
In business, it takes years to build a good reputation, and no one can afford to lose it instantly.
That makes the PR crisis one of the most dreaded issues faced by a company.
There are various causes for the same, like bad publicity or extensive spread of harmful rumors, or product or service failure, etc.
In today’s world, where the internet rules; any negative comment/sentiment/reply can harm the goodwill of any company.
The most disastrous effect of this PR crisis is a breach of trust.
Trust is undoubtedly the most coveted quality, not just in personal life but also in professional life.
PR crisis takes a toll on the trust instilled by the clients and customers in a company and makes them doubt their decision. Therefore, managing a PR crisis and recovering from it at the earliest is of the utmost importance.
By the end of this post, you will find out the best ways that can empower you in handling all sorts of PR crises, but before that, you should delve into the causes because of which a PR crisis may occur. So, let us go through them as well-
Causes of PR Crisis
There are several reasons for a PR crisis.
In every business, there are lots of people involved. There are stakeholders of many sorts who need to be given the result and respect they rightly deserve.
Any breach in both of these can lead to a PR crisis. Here are some details on its causes:
1. Viral Social Media Posts
Social media takes the cake in creating a PR crisis. The horrendous social media trials and trolling have fuelled the PR crisis.
One negative comment or improper reply leads to a disaster. It influences millions of people in one go. At the time, when social media is so prevalent across the globe, it can be a significant factor in a PR crisis.
Handling negative sentiments of users and potential buyers is very important, and if you fail in doing so, it can aggravate your crisis.
2. Clickbait Headlines
A Clickbait headline is the one that compels the reader to dive into it and read the article.
To make the article or the headline spicy and catchy, one can circulate incorrect and improper information. That may lead to a PR crisis.
You must offer your customers the same product or service that you promise, and when you fail in doing so, it may cause a PR crisis for you.
3. Product Malfunctions and Recalls
Not every story about a company or a product is untrue.
Sometimes, the quality of the product is genuinely poor, leading to malfunctions and recalls.
Repetitive failure cases and their complaints can also cause a PR crisis.
So, when you not only fail in maintaining the quality of your products but also fail in responding to the complaints of your users, it will cause a PR crisis for your brand.
4. Misbehaving Boss or Rebellious Employees
In any company, the boss and employees need to share an amicable relationship.
If the boss repeatedly misbehaves or the employees’ rebel unnecessarily, it can harm the company’s position in the market.
Lack of adequate employee management can always be the reason for the PR crisis.
5. Complaints of Harassment
It is illegal and unethical to harass any employee physically, emotionally or sexually. It is excellent that these aspects are gaining importance nowadays.
But, such complaints against anyone in the company can ruin the reputation and PR of the company straight away.
A company that fails in incorporating and implementing guidelines for such unacceptable behaviors will always be vulnerable to such sorts of PR crises.
Now, as you have gone through some of the causes of a PR crisis, let us have a look upon two of the most famous PR Crises here, so you can understand how things change negatively for a brand and become into a crisis-
Examples of PR Crisis
1) YouTube Scandal of Domino’s
In the year 2009, two of the employees of Domino’s posted a YouTube video of preparing food in a distasteful manner.
The company did not react to it immediately, and as per the reports of the New York Times, within a few hours, it did negative branding for Domino’s. Even Domino’s management offered an apology, but it did not work.
2) Greenpeace vs Nestle
In the year 2010, Greenpeace made a YouTube video against the Nestlé’s use of Palm oil.
Their video was a parody of Kit Kat ad in which when an office worker opens a Kit Kat chocolate; he finds an orangutan finger. This video parody was made to showcase how Nestlé’s sourcing of palm oil is threatening orangutans in Indonesia.
In response to this parody, Nestle contacted YouTube and asked them to remove this video. YouTube removed the video, but by then, it had caused public outrage. People said lots of bad things about Nestle on Social Media.
Nestle even tried to remove those bad comments from social media which was not a good strategy at all; instead, they should try to put forward their side of the story in a polite manner- which they did not, and hence, caused a PR crisis.
So, now as you have understood how disruptive a PR crisis can be, let us now have a look upon the best ways that can help you in tackling different sorts of PR crises-
Top 10 Ways to Tackle a PR Crisis
Owing to all the reasons mentioned above, public relations (PR) need to be maintained well. There are certain tried and tested formulae to achieve this. Some of them are discussed below:
1. Know the situation Right
Before managing the situation, you need to know the nitty-gritty of what caused the problem. You cannot plan the correct response method without understanding the situation.
2. Please take responsibility for the crisis
Jerking the responsibility away is no way to get out of it, as doing that will further worsen the situation. It would help if you started communicating with clients as soon as you can.
3. Be Transparent and Responsive
You should never go in the ‘no comments’ zone. The consumers have undoubtedly had a bad experience due to the crisis. Know it for yourself that you owe them some response.
4. Identify the Affected Clients
To manage the crisis, you need to know the clients who were affected. That will give you a clearer picture of the repercussions and help you reach out to them better.
5. Devise a Strategy
While running a business, you need to have strategies planned for every known situation. Hence, it will help if you always keep a PR Crisis Management Team ready that will take care of the situation.
6. Circulate a Message
As mentioned earlier, never leave the clients unaddressed. You should circulate a message pacifying them. If you want to know the effects of the crisis on them or clarify your side, do it politely. It is advised to apologize first.
7. Brace Yourself to Face Social Media
In the age of social media, there are severe speculations that spread like wildfire. That leads to social media trials which may be destructive for the company’s reputation. You need to make sure that you are circulating the right information.
8. Monitor an Ongoing Crisis
During times of crisis, you need to have your monitoring team on high alert. You should review the news being circulated and respond to it. Be human and polite while communicating with the clients. Monitoring helps plan a better strategy.
9. Do Not Fuel the Crisis
Anything wrong said or done by the team, or the employees can have a terrible impact. It may make people aggressive, and such incidents ruin the reputation of a company. Hence, the company should behave responsibly.
10. Learn and Grow
You should be aware of what the previous PR crisis was. You can take hints of strategies from that. You also need to take lessons from the current crisis and make use of them in the future. It would help if you remember ‘prevention is better than cure’.
PR Crisis Wrap Up!
PR, meaning Public Relations, is a crucial factor in any business.
Whenever you are planning to put up a business, you need to plan every single aspect of it. PR is no exception. There should be a solid plan, always ready to tackle a PR crisis.
The crisis is part and parcel of business. But, handling it the right way and recovering from it is essential. There are some solutions which one needs to apply to get past the PR crisis in any business.
Have you ever faced any PR crisis and successfully tackled it?
Or do you have any example of any brand that had faced the wrath of a PR crisis?
Share your experiences and opinions of handling a PR crisis with us in the comments below.