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Handling your company publicity

Know what to do before it happens

Although you might believe this will never happen to you, I’m sure Donald Sterling and Brian Williams had that same thought until it happened to them.

There are a few basic things you can do now to prepare for a crisis situation with your company, or you personally. Having a  PR Marketing Strategy isn’t enough to prepare you for a negative situation. These four steps are designed to get you to think and are a good basis to create your crisis plan.

1-IDENTIFY THREATS BEFORE THEY HAPPEN
Think of any possible threats you or your company may face. It is impossible to predict if someone says a racial slur, or make up a news story, it is still important to have a proactive strategy when it comes to a crisis management situation.

Once you have identified these threats, develop a response matrix for each and every potential threat you listed. The worksheet should have strategies to help minimize damage and identify any key personnel who will develop and deliver the response to the media. It is ok to have a publicity person, but you or someone you assign should be the primary contact, not a pr person.

2-HAVE PREPARED BLANKET STATEMENTS
This is the time to get an attorney involved. If your company has an attorney, discuss with your legal counsel the statements written to get their approval. Make it easy on yourself; develop each potential situation with a statement that has easy-to-fill-in placeholders. When a crisis happens, this will allow you to be responsive quickly to the media. Plus, it will tell the media you are willing to address the situation vs hiding from it.

3-BE HONEST
Ok, I did say that step # 1 was probably one of the most difficult, but this might be as difficult if you are a person who doesn’t like to take blame, or always points the finger at other people. When confronted by the media, be straightforward and remember these 5 NEVERS:

• Never Lie
• Never Speculate
• Never Lose Your Temper or Swear
• Never Say “No Comment”
• Never Lose Eye Contact

4-KEEP YOUR MEDIA RESPONSES CONCISE
Are you a “talker?” Do you not know when to stop speaking because you want to make sure your point is

Have a crisis plan

Prepare for negative publicity

noticed? It’s time to break those habits and listen closely if so. Think in short 30-second sound bites. Have your three most important messages memorized. Don’t try to explain your entire side of the story. Use carefully worded messages when speaking to the media. It is ok to pause and collect your thoughts before talking.

Being prepared can minimize any negative impact or unfavorable situation and keep you from humiliating yourself or your company. To learn more about preparing for a pr crisis situation in your company, give George Carson a call, before it’s too late!