PR Disasters 101: Four Mistakes People Make When They’re Dealing With A PR Problem
Maybe your company’s CEO took an unpopular stance on a current hot button issue, or perhaps your newest product or service is getting less than stellar reviews from customers. Either way, you have a PR problem on your hands and you’re scrambling to find a way to deal with it. Media relations have become essential for recovering from a PR disaster, but there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to handle it. If you hire a good PR company to help you weather the crisis you’ll be fine, but when some businesses and companies work with them they still insist on doing things their own way. If you find yourself in the middle of a PR problem, avoid making these mistakes at all costs.
Distancing yourself from the problem/ignoring the problem
There’s a controversy surrounding your company, and pretending that it doesn’t exist will only make the problem worse. Even if the allegations made against your company are false, you have to address them head on unless you want to be unfairly judged in the court of public opinion. Consumers and customers want to hear you explain your side of the story, and not hear you make excuses or pretend like nothing is wrong. Don’t wait for anything to “blow over”, and don’t refuse to talk about it in the media (PR rule #1: adamant silence makes you look guilty). Work with a PR company and find the best way to address the issue.
Not appearing sincere
When you’re trying to deal with a PR disaster, one of the worst things you can do is not appearing sincere when you explain your company’s side of the story. Sincerity is very important to consumers, and issuing an apology that your company doesn’t seem to stand by can significantly hurt your business. Sometimes it isn’t the apology that upsets people, it’s the way employees and important company managers act during a problem. If your company is the middle of PR crisis, it isn’t the time to throw extravagant employee parties or to give yourself a raise.
Only doing one thing to deal with the problem
Doing a single public apology or releasing a bland press release isn’t going to be enough to sway consumers to your favor again. People hate effortless apologies from companies almost as much as they hate insincere apologies, and doing one single thing to deal with the problem won’t make your company look good. Address the problem again once it’s fixed, tell the public exactly what you’re doing to fix the problem, or even donate to a charitable cause that’s loosely related to the problem at hand. Do whatever you can to help your company, and make sure you just don’t do one thing.
Hiding your owner/CEO
When you’re in the midst of a PR nightmare your owner or CEO may want to lay low, but that’s never a good idea when you’re trying to win back public approval. Like it or not your owner or CEO is the figurehead of your company, and when trouble rears its ugly head people are going to want to know what the person in charge is doing to help it. An invisible owner or CEO during a time of crisis doesn’t just look suspicious to outsiders; it also will make your employees worry and wonder if something is seriously wrong.
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