Public Relations nightmares come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. From something as small as an errant tweet to something along the scale of the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, there is no "one size fits all" solution. When it comes to bad press, it's best to prepared for anything.
Jenna Oltersdorf with Snackbox recommends that business owners brainstorm a list of things that could go wrong, and then, appoint key people that will handle the crisis. "You need to establish who will be the face of the company; you don't want reporters hearing conflicting messages from several members of the company; you need a point person," she says:
Here are a few reasons your business might make headlines in a negative light:
- Product failures or changes
- Sudden departure or death of business leader
- Inappropriate personal behavior
- Natural disasters or accidents
- Breach of corporate standards or laws
The first step to dealing with a public blunder is to take a moment to assess the situation calmly and keep a level head in the midst of the crisis. This may prove near impossible if on the verge of a mental breakdown or a massive public backlash, but on the bright side, this attention can become a great opportunity to improve your business and your image.
It is also important to move quickly if and when a crisis strikes. Within the 24 hour news outlet that is a socially-connected Internet, bad news can travel across the globe in a matter of seconds. MSN Business News has mapped out these immediate steps to take if facing a Public Relations nightmare:
- Learn what happened, who is affected and what media are spreading the news so you can respond through the same channels.
- Take responsibility: Communicate what happened, what you're doing to correct the problem and how it won't happen again.
- Keep messages brief and clear, providing back up information available on request
- Be consistent by using the same spokespeople, messages and assurances
Every situation is unique, there is no magic cure for the PR nightmare. But, if you stick to a plan and employ a well thought out strategy, you will be able to recover and wind up with a stronger public image in the long run. Some press is indeed bad press, but when your situation is handled properly, the good will always shine through.