PR - Crisis and Management

Monday, April 24, 2006

Final Post

Crisis public relations plays an integral role in each and every corporation, organization and business. Every organization is vulnerable to crises. If you don't prepare, you will take more damage. Planning for the worst and expecting the backlash is what crisis PR is all about. Crisis public relations is a field which is rapidly expanding and becoming a well recognized field and career path.

Throughout the course of the semester, I have learned that a crisis is any situation that threatens the integrity or reputation of your company, usually brought on by adverse or negative media attention. These situations can be any kind of legal dispute, theft, accident, fire, flood or manmade disaster that could be attributed to your company. It can also be a situation where in the eyes of the media or general public your company did not react to one of the above situations in the appropriate manner. The basic causes of a business crisis are four in number:

1. Acts of God (storms, earthquakes, volcanic action, etc)
2. Mechanical problems (ruptured pipes, metal fatigue, etc.)
3. Human errors (the wrong valve was opened, miscommunication about what to do, etc.)
4. Management decisions/indecision (the problem is not serious, nobody will find out)

I have also learned that if handled correctly the damage can be minimized. The main point I have taken away from this blog is that if there’s one key rule is crisis management, it’s tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth. Other main principles of crisis management that have been utilized by the subjects reviewed in my blog are:

• The first and foremost goal is protecting the integrity and reputation of the Company.
• Never try to lie, deny or hide your involvement.
• If you ignore the situation it will only get worse.
• Don't let the lawyers make the decisions. While they are good intentioned it may cause the crisis to escalate.
• The cause of almost all crises fall into two broad categories:
• Overt acts and acts of omission.
• Issues of competence or lack thereof in matters of public perception.

I have an interest in becoming a public relations specialist so this project has helped me learn how to prepare for my future. I want to pursue a career in public relations and throughout the course of this semester I have picked up a few pointers on a PR practitioner should deal with the media and the most effective strategies to use when facing a crisis. They include:

* Prepare "talking paper" on primary points you want to make when giving speeches to the media.
* Anticipate questions and prepare responses.
* Build bridges, network and make as many contacts as possible because you never know when you might need an ally.
* Use specifics, analogies, contrast and comparisons to help your audience understand the message you are trying to portray.
* Be enthusiastic/animated.
* Do be a listener.

After completing two months of blogging about crisis public relations I feel as though I have a better understanding of the field as a whole and the strategies employed in successful public relations campaigns. I have an increased interest in pursuing this field as a career as well. I have also learned the benefits of blogging as a medium for two-way communication. I feel that blogging is quickly becoming the future of the communication industry, bringing more interaction and engagement to consumers and organizations alike. Blogging helps create an environment that facilitates two-way communication and feedback from users which in turn helps organizations better meet the needs and wants of their consumers. Blogging also provides an opportunity to speak freely about topics and gives other users the chance to read a variety of opinions and perspectives.

Blogging is extremely important to the public relations departments of companies as the public image and awareness of a product or person is greatly affected by what appears on blogs. In terms of crisis public relations, I believe blogging will be a positive and a negative, both aiding in free publicity for a company but also serving as an outlet for unsatisfied customers to vent about their frustrations with your company. Keeping on top of what is being said about your company or organization throughout the blogosphere will be an important component of any crisis public relations strategy from now on.


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