There is no better public relations teacher than a public relations blunder, a truth evident in recent headlines: “Stork Craft Manufacturing Experiences Massive Crib Recall,” “Tiger Woods Caught out for Adultery,” and “White House Suffers Breach of Security.” All of these crises were made worse by poor communication. Here are three vital lessons in crisis communications for public relations professionals pulled straight from the rumor mill.
Crisis Communications's archives
This half-day, pre-Conference session by James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, CCEP, proves you don’t have to have all the presentation bells and whistles to hold the attention of your audience! Through strategic conversation, supplemental handouts and breakout sessions discussing real crisis scenarios, The Strategic Advisor in Action During Crisis session challenges public relations practitioners to re-evaluate how they interact with the media during a crisis situation and become better managers, leaders and people in these tough situations. Lukaszewski claimed he was not teaching public relations, but changing our mindset to view a crisis as an operator and management function. More than just a matter of semantics!
Tags: crisis+communications, James+Lukaszewski, lauren+vargas, prsa+conference, reputation+management
The emergence of social media in public relations strikes me as being like a lot of crises. First, it has the capacity to change our world profoundly — for good or ill. Second, it looked like it snuck up on us, bursting onto the scene with an urgency and impact that could be considered explosive. But the truth is, like most crises, it was there smoldering for a long time before it erupted into the single most compelling issue in public relations today. Third, while we’re in the thick of this “social media crisis,” it looks like it will never end. But like all crises, it too shall pass. The only question is, what will the future look like when it is superceded with some new form of normalcy?
At the recent Ragan Communications/PRSA Conference on Social Media in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to speak on social media and crisis communication. It was one of the most engaging discussions I’ve ever had with a large group. Essentially what we discussed was the fact that social media is changing our world forever, and that social media changes nothing of importance.
Social media, as exemplified by three of the hot topics of the day — Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — is accelerating and emphasizing trends that have been in play ever since the Internet became part of our lives. These trends are the ever-increasing speed of news, the ability and expectation of audiences to get information directly from sources rather than from the media, the exponential phenomenon of word of mouth and the high levels of interactivity. These changes are profound for those involved in daily public affairs, issues management and crisis management. In this sense, it changes everything. Our work is faster, more direct, more interactive — let alone how styles and modes have changed.
In my 30 years of counseling publicly traded companies on how to tell their investment stories, I have never seen a more challenging and difficult environment in which to do so. The U.S. credit crisis, collapse and consolidation of long-standing banking firms, and turmoil in the global monetary markets are events that have taken center stage, requiring communications professionals to develop strategies and messages that will cut through the noise and fear in the financial markets to reach the eyes and ears of their constituents. I’m not only talking about members of the investment community, but also employees, customers and vendors, who all need to be reassured that your company will weather this storm.
Tags: credit crisis, finance public relations, financial communication
Most public relations professionals have at least a rudimentary knowledge of crisis plans and communications but because most don’t often have to use them (knock on wood) few of us possess the experience to evaluate them. Jean Gonsoulin, senior vice-president for GolinHarris addressed that void with, “How Bullet-Proof Is Your Crisis Plan?” Evaluating and re-tooling your plan for successful management in a crisis.”
Key takeaways included:
- The worst part of a crisis is being unprepared.
- Our role is to convince management to plan for the unthinkable.
- Corporate crises can take many forms – catastrophic, employee violence, product recalls, tainted products, executive misconduct, stock crashes, etc.
- We should look at crises possibilities from many different angles and areas.
- Consequences of poor crisis planning include escalation of the crisis, financial devastation, harmed reputation, chaos in the workplace and ultimate failure of your business or company.
Tags: crisis planning, reputation
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