Preparing for a Crisis

By: Denise Blackburn-Gay, APR, Fellow PRSA

DRP start button. Disaster Recovery Plan concept or crisis solutions.

Sooner or later every organization faces a crisis. Preventing a damaging blow to your reputation
requires a strategic crisis plan. While the plan needs to be catered to your organization and
situation, they all have three things in common:

You must be assertive.
You must be tenacious.
If you’re in the wrong, you must express remorse.

Here are tips for getting in front of the crisis:

  1. Be Prepared. When a crisis strikes, how will you relay your message?
  2. Create a First Critical Statement. Acknowledge that a crisis has occurred, that you are dealing with it, and that you will provide more information as soon as you have it.
  3. Act Quickly. Presenting the first critical statement at the beginning of the situation will help diffuse speculation and protect your reputation.
  4. Be Concise and Candid. Be honest and straightforward. Your goal is to build trust.
  5. Monitor the Message. What is being said about your organization? You can only respond if you know what is being said and by whom.
  6. Offer Apologies When Necessary. It’s OK to say you are sorry. It’s even more important to let the public know that you have employed steps to ensure the event will not recur.
  7. Seek the Services of a Reputable Crisis Communicator. Outside experts are often brought in during a crisis to work with an in-house PR team.  These individuals can focus on the issue through unbiased eyes.

Remember, it’s not if a crisis will occur, but when. Develop a crisis plan.

Denise Blackburn-Gay is one of two professionals in South Carolina to be PRSA certified in Crisis Communication and Reputation Management.

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