Hint: Don’t Make It Any Worse

Quick: What are the 10 things you need to do in a PR crisis?

1. Keep the message simple; change it as needed to keep up with developments.

2. Use the web and all social media channels wisely and keep track of who’s saying what. In addition to social and free online tools, like Google Alerts, communicators can stay on top of broadcast media and online news coverage with an all-in-one media monitoring platform like Critical Mention.

3. Have one designated spokesperson with one consistent message. Do NOT have more than one spokesperson.

4. Hire a crisis PR agency. They do this for a living.

5. Keep up with the client’s use of email and social media. Keep them on the reservation.

6. If your client is flogged in the press daily, pick a select few outlets to give access to or hold some on or off the record briefings.

7. If you promise the press something, deliver or the press will never forget. They’re like elephants that way.

8. The local media takes big stories personally so don’t forget them even as a crisis goes national. Think of UNC-Chapel Hill and its academic scandal and the Raleigh News & Observer.

9. Try to avoid no comment. Yes, sometimes you have to do it but it looks bad. Think of a way to comment without commenting.

10. If you have a gripe with a reporter’s story, talk to the reporter first directly. Don’t go over his or her head and don’t bash him or her on the Internet or social media.

Whoops, I forgot one. There is an 11th tip: work on your crisis plan and skills before a crisis hits. You can’t wing it in a crisis. That’s a recipe for PR disaster, trust me.

For more tips, check out Critical Mention’s video on Crisis Preparedness:

Written by Andrew Blum on behalf of Critical Mention.