Crisis Communications

Corporate Communication

Building Trust Through Transparency: The Role of PR in Corporate Communication

Trust is the cornerstone of successful relationships, whether personal or professional. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of corporate communication, where public relations (PR) plays a pivotal role in fostering trust through transparency. In an era where consumers demand authenticity and accountability from the brands they engage with, companies must prioritize transparency in their corporate communication strategies to build and maintain trust. Let's delve into why transparency matters, how corporate communications facilitate it, and the pivotal role of PR in corporate communication, exploring its significance, strategies, and impact.

Why Transparency Matters

Transparency is the bedrock of trust in any relationship, and the corporate world is no exception. When companies are transparent, they openly share information about their operations, policies, decisions, and performance. This openness breeds confidence among stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and the wider community. Conversely, opacity breeds suspicion and erodes trust, leading to reputational damage and loss of credibility.

Corporate Communication
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As information flows freely and swiftly, consumers have become more discerning. They seek authenticity and honesty from the brands they support. They expect companies to be forthcoming about their practices, values, and impact on society and the environment. Failure to meet these expectations can result in public backlash, boycotts, and long-term damage to the brand's reputation.

Understanding Corporate Communication

Before delving into the role of PR, let's decipher the essence of corporate communication. Essentially, corporate communication encompasses the transmission of information, internally and externally, within an organization. It encompasses various channels, including media relations, investor relations, employee communication, and crisis management. Effective corporate communication fosters transparency, enhancing the brand reputation and cultivating not only stakeholder trust, but also the trust of the public at large.

The Nexus between PR and Corporate Communication

At the nexus of corporate communication lies public relations, serving as its chief architect and advocate. PR functions as the strategic guardian of a company's image, ensuring alignment between organizational objectives and communication initiatives. Through astute messaging and engagement tactics, PR professionals navigate the intricate terrain of media, public perception, and stakeholder relations.

Strategic Messaging and Brand Positioning

Central to PR's role in corporate communication is crafting strategic messaging that resonates with target audiences. By articulating compelling narratives and key messages, PR professionals shape the perception of a company, reinforcing its brand identity and values. Whether through press releases, speeches, or social media campaigns, PR ensures that corporate messaging remains consistent, coherent, and impactful.

Corporate Communication
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Media Relations and Reputation Management

In an era of digital ubiquity, media relations form a cornerstone of corporate communication. PR professionals liaise with journalists, bloggers, and influencers to secure positive media coverage and manage reputational risks. Through proactive media outreach and rapid response strategies, PR mitigates crises, counters negative narratives, and safeguards the brand's integrity.

Employee Engagement and Internal Communication

Effective corporate communication extends beyond external stakeholders to encompass internal audiences, notably employees. PR plays a pivotal role in fostering employee engagement, aligning workforce perceptions with organizational goals. Through town halls, newsletters, and intranet platforms, PR cultivates a culture of transparency, empowerment, and collaboration within the company.

Crisis Communication and Issue Management

In the face of crises or controversies, PR emerges as the frontline defender of corporate reputation. Through swift and strategic crisis communication, PR professionals navigate turbulent waters, offering transparency, empathy, and solutions. By crafting crisis response plans, conducting media training, and monitoring online sentiment, PR minimizes reputational damage and restores stakeholder confidence.

Measuring Impact and Driving Results

As in all areas of business, measurement is paramount. PR employs a myriad of metrics, from media impressions to sentiment analysis, to gauge the efficacy of communication efforts. By analyzing data and insights, PR professionals glean actionable intelligence which enable them to refine strategies and optimize outcomes. Whether through surveys, focus groups, or social media analytics, PR demonstrates its value by driving tangible results and ROI.

The Evolution of PR in the Digital Age

With the advent of digital technologies, PR has undergone a profound evolution, reshaping the landscape of corporate communication. Social media platforms, online forums, and digital influencers have democratized information dissemination, amplifying the reach and impact of PR initiatives. Today, PR professionals harness the power of data analytics, AI-driven insights, and immersive storytelling to engage audiences in real-time across diverse channels.

The Imperative of PR in Corporate Communication

In the tapestry of corporate communication, public relations emerges as a linchpin, weaving together narratives, relationships, and perceptions. Through strategic messaging, media relations, and crisis communication, PR shapes the narrative of corporate communications, elevating a brand’s reputation and fostering stakeholder trust. As businesses navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world, the role of PR in corporate communication becomes ever more indispensable. By embracing innovation, agility, and authenticity, PR professionals pave the way for enduring success in the digital age.

Crisis Communication

The Art of Crisis Communications

Crafting a Plan for the Unplanned

Nobody expects a crisis to happen, but nearly every business, small or large, will suffer a crisis at one point or another. The best action plan for mitigating a crisis is to prepare before it ever occurs.

Crises can range from one negative comment on Facebook to a full-blow media takedown of your business, but RPR Firm, a boutique PR agency, alleges that no crisis is too big to come back from. The more you can anticipate problems in advance of them happening, the better and faster you’ll be able to respond.

What is PR’s role in a business crisis?

Your company will need all hands on deck when a crisis occurs. At least one person from every department should get involved to determine the source of the crisis and how to make things right.

Public relations (PR) is crucial in managing and mitigating business crises. In times of crisis, the PR team functions as a strategic communicator, working to maintain or repair a company's reputation. PR professionals act as the bridge between the business and the public, conveying information transparently and effectively. Their role involves crafting messages that address the crisis, managing media relations, and coordinating with internal teams to ensure a cohesive, on-brand, and thorough response. By proactively addressing the crisis through strategic statements, PR helps businesses maintain public trust and navigate challenging situations.

What does crisis communications entail?

Crisis communication is the strategic communication management of a significant event that threatens an organization's reputation or operations. It involves the development of a comprehensive plan to address the crisis, communicate key messages, and manage the flow of information. Internal or external PR teams typically handle these tasks.

Crisis communication strategies aim to control the narrative, provide accurate information, and minimize damage to the organization's reputation. This discipline extends beyond traditional media relations to encompass digital and social media, recognizing the modern-day impact of these platforms on public perception. Effective crisis communications help organizations respond swiftly and decisively, mitigating potential harm and restoring confidence.

Typically, crisis communications entail simultaneously distributing a statement to the media and on owned channels like social media platforms and newsletters and making leadership available for quotes or comments on pieces covering the crisis story. Other proactive campaigns should pause, and in-person appearances should get rescheduled.

Why does every business need a crisis plan?

Every business needs a crisis plan as a proactive measure to safeguard its reputation. Crises can emerge unexpectedly, from product recalls and natural disasters to cybersecurity breaches and leadership controversies. A crisis plan enables businesses to respond promptly and to minimize the impact on their brand and stakeholders. 

A well-prepared crisis plan outlines communication strategies, identifies key spokespersons, and establishes protocols for information dissemination. It ensures that the organization can navigate the complexities of a crisis with resilience and transparency. Ultimately, a crisis plan is a vital component of risk management, demonstrating a commitment to accountability and protecting the long-term interests of the business.

How to build a crisis plan — a step-by-step guide

Here are a few tips for building a crisis plan from the ground up, as shared by Emily Reynolds-Bergh, Founder of RPR Firm. Emily and her team specialize in reputation management and have previously worked with national and global corporations to mitigate crises.

Crisis Communication
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Crafting your crisis team

You will want the following people on your crisis team.

PR Spokesperson/Communications Lead: A skilled communicator who effectively conveys messages to various stakeholders, manages media relations, and maintains transparency during the crisis. A high-ranking member of the PR team is a great choice.

CEO/Top Management: The top executive provides leadership, makes critical decisions, and demonstrates the organization's commitment to resolving crises.

Legal Advisor: A legal expert who assesses legal implications, guides decision-making in compliance with regulations and minimizes potential risks.

Operations Manager: Responsible for coordinating the logistics of the crisis response, ensuring necessary actions are taken, and maintaining business continuity.

Human Resources Representative: Manages internal communication, addresses employee concerns, and ensures the well-being of employees during the crisis.

Depending on your organization’s size, consider adding other individuals as needed.

Steps to Create a Crisis Plan

Crisis Communication
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By following these steps, you can create an adaptable crisis plan that enables a swift and coordinated response during challenging times.

Risk Assessment and Scenario Planning: Identify potential risks and crises that could impact the company, including internal and external factors. Consider conducting scenario planning exercises to simulate various crises.

Establish a Crisis Response Team: Refer to the list above to assemble a cross-functional crisis response team with clear roles and responsibilities.

Communication Protocols and Messaging: Develop a communication plan outlining how to disseminate information internally and externally. Craft key messages that align with the company's values and designate a spokesperson.

Training and Simulation Exercises: Train the crisis response team on their roles and the overall crisis plan.

Continuous Review and Updating: Regularly review and update the crisis plan to ensure it remains relevant and aligned with the evolving nature of the business.

Getting Started with Crisis Communication

Whether your company is in the early planning stages or just coming out of crisis mode, now is the time to set yourself up for future success. Take these tips for crisis management to heart, and should you need help, contact RPR Firm for crisis communications planning assistance.

reputation management

Risky Business: The Dangers of Playing the Victim in Reputation Management

When it comes to reputation management, businesses constantly need help navigating the complex landscape of perception. In times of crisis, a company may be tempted to adopt a victim narrative to position the business as the underdog, facing insurmountable odds and seeking empathy from stakeholders. While there may be instances where playing the victim can elicit short-term sympathy, there are significant limitations to this strategy.

One of the most significant risks associated with playing the victim as a reputation management strategy is the potential erosion of trust. Audiences are generally empathetic and willing to support someone facing challenges, but they can quickly become disillusioned if they sense manipulation or insincerity. Maintaining trust is paramount in the digital age, where misinformation and deceit are rampant. Therefore, individuals and businesses must tread carefully when playing the victim card to avoid unintentionally damaging their credibility. 

What Is Reputation Management and Why Does It Matter?

Public relations (PR) helps businesses build a reputation management strategy to maintain a trusted relationship with the public. Reputation management is the intentional process of shaping, monitoring, and influencing how the public perceives an individual, brand, or organization. It involves proactive efforts to establish a positive reputation and reactive measures to address and mitigate any negative sentiments that may arise. Reputation management spans various channels, including online platforms, traditional media, and word-of-mouth, making it a multifaceted discipline.

A positive reputation is invaluable, influencing trust, credibility, financial success, and longevity. In our dynamic and interconnected world, reputation management is the compass that guides individuals and businesses toward sustained success.

Emily Reynolds Bergh, founder of R Public Relations + Creative, explains, “Building a positive organizational reputation is not done in a day; it takes patience and an investment in effective strategies. Public relations is the key to a strong reputation management strategy to help your business maintain a relationship with the public that is based on trust and authenticity.”

Here are the dos and don’ts of reputation management:

1. Avoid Loss of Credibility

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Don't: Consistently portray your brand as a victim in response to challenges, competition, or external factors. This raises doubts about your narrative's authenticity and can be perceived as a deflection of responsibility, which will negatively impact your reputation management. A loss of credibility can harm relationships with consumers, investors, and partners, making it challenging to regain trust.

Do: Embrace transparency and take ownership of challenges. Communicate a balanced narrative acknowledging setbacks while demonstrating your organization's commitment to learning, adapting, and overcoming obstacles.

2. Promote Resilience and Innovation

Don't: Attribute setbacks solely to external forces, which fosters a culture of blame that stifles innovation and resilience within your business.

Do: Encourage a proactive approach to challenges, which fosters a culture that values adaptability, strategic problem-solving, and continuous improvement. Acknowledge internal opportunities for growth and innovation.

3. Manage Negative Brand Perceptions

reputation management
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Don't: Perpetuate a victim narrative, constantly associating your brand with problems and challenges. This undermines perceived competence and reliability.

Do: Showcase your brand's strengths, achievements, and unique value propositions. Craft a positive narrative highlighting your ability to navigate challenges while maintaining competence and reliability.

4. Control the Narrative

Don't: Adopt a victimhood narrative that relinquishes control of your story to external circumstances, defining your brand solely by challenges and setbacks.

Do: Take an active role in shaping your narrative. Highlight positive aspects of your business, emphasizing strengths, achievements, and unique value propositions to resonate with your target audience.

5. Minimize Impacts on Employee Morale

reputation management
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Don't: Embrace a victim mentality internally, as this leads to decreased motivation, engagement, and a sense of collective purpose among your employees. And a negative workplace culture impedes productivity and innovation, hindering overall business success.

Do: Foster a positive workplace culture by promoting accountability, resilience, and a proactive approach to challenges. Encourage a sense of shared purpose and pride in overcoming obstacles together.

6. Protect Your Competitive Edge

Don't: Consistently position your brand as a victim, potentially putting it at a disadvantage compared to competitors who project resilience, innovation, and accountability. 

Do: Maintain a positive and strong brand image. Showcase your brand's ability to adapt, innovate, and take responsibility, drawing customers with a narrative of strength and reliability.

7. Stay Ahead of a Crisis with Strong Reputation Management Strategies

Don't: Present your business as a perpetual victim, causing stakeholders to hesitate to engage with your brand due to perceived instability and an inability to navigate challenges.

Do: Build stakeholder confidence by showcasing your organization's ability to overcome obstacles. Communicate a narrative that inspires trust and emphasizes your proactive and strategic approach to adversity.

Reputation management is a delicate art that must carefully balance authenticity, resilience, and strategic communication. While playing the victim may offer short-term relief, the long-term consequences can harm a business's credibility and success. Companies that opt for a positive and proactive approach to public relations are better positioned to navigate challenges, inspire confidence among stakeholders, and build a lasting and positive brand image.

Are you considering working with a full-service PR team to boost your reputation management strategy? Schedule a free consultation with us today. 

crisis management

Role of PR in Crisis Management

When you think about public relations (PR), most people picture businesses sharing news and trying to get positive press mentions to increase brand awareness and credibility. Yes, PR does those things, but there’s an important flip side to it as well. You see, PR doesn’t just help businesses promote the good; it also helps you to overcome negative publicity. As such, PR has an integral role in crisis management. Here’s how it can help your brand in a crisis.

What is Crisis Management?

Crisis Management
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By definition, a crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. But in the business world, a crisis is really any unanticipated event that could disrupt your operations and/or cause potential harm to your brand reputation, including:

  • Product recalls
  • Customer injuries
  • Employee misconduct
  • Security breaches
  • Natural disasters

In turn, crisis management is the art of not only responding effectively to events that have occurred but also being proactive in anticipating crises so that your business is prepared.

How PR Can Help with Crisis Management

Crisis Management
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The goal of public relations is to influence, engage, and build a positive relationship and/or image with your target audience, which is why PR tactics are so ideal for helping brands in a crisis. The role of PR in crisis management gives brands the following.

1. Peace of mind 

When a crisis hits, panic typically follows, and that’s when mistakes happen. For most businesses, crisis management isn’t something you or your team deal with every day. So it’s natural to be overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. A PR specialist can take that worry off your shoulders by acting swiftly and surely on your behalf to protect your brand in the public eye.

2. Freedom to focus on the crisis 

There’s much more to worry about in a crisis than public relations alone. Having to split your focus between what to say in public, to your customers, and to your employees while also working on the logistics needed to resolve the crisis itself leaves you pulled in so many directions that you and/or your team may not be as effective as you could be. With a PR specialist handling the media and your message to each audience, you’re free to focus on the aspects of the crisis in which you’re needed most.

3. More control of the narrative 

When it comes to crisis management, speed is everything. Especially how fast you communicate about the crisis. It’s much harder to change public perception once the crisis is already being talked about in the news and/or on social media than to drive the message from your point of view. During the time it takes you and your team to decide whom to contact and what to say, the narrative can quickly spin out of your control. 

The key is getting the right message to the right people right away. A PR specialist can help you do just that because they already have the processes and the connections in place.

4. Ability to present your brand in the best light

Most of the time, how you say something is just as important as what you say. If you’re not used to speaking with the media or on video, you could inadvertently come across in a way that does more harm than good during a crisis. PR specialists have the training and finesse to help you get your message across in a way that puts your brand in the best light. It’s imperative that everyone representing the brand about the crisis is authentic, honest, and transparent in their words and their body language.

5. An even better reputation

When done right, crisis management may potentially improve your reputation over the long run. Of course, it depends on the crisis at hand, but businesses that are authentic, honest, and open the lines of communication through effective PR have often been the ones who have thrived despite the circumstances.

6. The means to monitor the situation

As the crisis evolves, so will public sentiment, which means you need to keep a pulse on national and local news outlets and what your customers are saying on social media. Again, if this isn’t something you deal will every day, you may not have the means or the time to stay on top of this effectively. Not to mention knowing when to respond and how. But your PR specialist will! 

They’ll also be able to track your campaigns carefully as well. If your crisis communication approach is working, great! If it’s not, they’ll help you reassess to see how you might tweak to improve communications going forward. 

Next Steps for Crisis Management

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The adage, “the best defense is a good offense,” certainly applies when it comes to crisis management because the reality is that you’ll be best prepared to respond to a crisis if you proactively plan for one. 

A PR specialist can help create a plan that identifies where your brand might be vulnerable, develops messaging for potential scenarios, and appoints those who will speak on the brand’s behalf. They can also help with media training. But, most importantly, keep in mind that one crisis does not have to define your brand, and with effective crisis management, it won’t. So, to get started, contact us to schedule a call today!


What Keeping Up With Kardashian Crisis Communication Can Teach Your Brand


You might say that wherever there’s a Kardashian, drama is sure to follow. But regardless of whether that’s bad luck or careful planning, no one knows how to capitalize on a crisis like this family. Their PR prowess in general is impressive, but their ability to weather scandals and missteps and come out the other side with an even stronger brand is a master class in crisis communication. Here’s what the Kardashians can teach your brand.

Lesson One: Stick to The Crisis Communication Plan

Yes, you should have one in place BEFORE any type of crisis hits. And the word is that when you know what hits the fan, the Kardashians have a meeting−all of them−no matter where they are the family is on the phone, on FaceTime, etc. Kris Kardashian is said to lead these meetings where the family discusses how to handle the situation and do damage control; no doubt their PR firm plays a big part in this as well. The key is, everyone already knows what to do. This is important because with roles and steps already set, you can respond quicker and focus on the crisis itself, not a last-minute scramble.

Lesson Two: Do Your Best to Control the Narrative

There really are any number of crises or scandals you could pick from Kardashian-wise from Kendall’s Pepsi ad to Kim’s crypto controversy to Kylie’s billionaire status to the Tristan Thompson cheating scandals to the never-ending saga that is Kanye. But through them all, if you’re watching closely, you can tell the family stays on the same page in their responses. Or, they don’t respond at all. You won’t catch one Kardashian making a statement and another disputing it or saying the opposite.

That’s the key here; present a united front. Know the narrative you want to get across and make sure everyone sticks with it. What’s more, the Kardashians haven’t been front page news all these years without making media connections and they use them to get their narrative out there. Most brands don’t have those connections, but PR firms do, which is another way they can help in a crisis.

Lesson Three: Humanize the Situation

One advantage the Kardashians have already is their personal brand. Yes, everyone in the family has a business brand (or two, or three), and to some degree their own personal brand (depending on the family member), but it all collectively rolls up into the Kardashian family brand. And the operative word here is family. So, it’s easier here to humanize, when regardless of the crisis, you hear from Khloe, Kourtney, Kim, Kris, or other family members directly. You know them, to a degree, on a personal level already which helps as they tell their side of the story. But brands can do this too.

A proactive approach is to humanize your brand, in general, by connecting with your audience as much as possible before any crisis takes place through brand ambassadors in the company, influencers, and/or even social media stories about employees, customers, community involvement, social causes, etc. Then, when a crisis happens, and you follow a similar approach specific to that situation, your audience is likely already more receptive. But however you engage with your audience, it must be sincere and relevant or it will backfire. A good PR firm can help you craft the right approach here as well.

Lesson Four: Make the Most of Any Situation

The Kardashians never let a crisis or scandal slow them down. And not just that but they are definitely in the camp that there’s no such thing as bad publicity because they have made the most of it on the regular. Case in point: Kylie’s lip injections. She came under fire when just a teenager for getting lip injections and soon after launched her own makeup line, Kylie Cosmetics. Initially, the line sold lip kits but has now turned into a cosmetics giant. Certainly, not all crises turn out this way, but the point is that brands can look for opportunities during any situation to come out the other side better and stronger. And your PR firm can help make that happen.

To learn how R team can help your brand with crisis communications, schedule your FREE discovery call today!

crisis management

What Crisis Management Is and Why You Need a Publicist ASAP

Crises happen so often in the business world that there’s an entire subset of public relations devoted to them known as crisis management. Given that how you respond to a crisis can either boost your brand or damage it significantly, crisis management is as essential to your business as the Keurig your team relies on to function. Or is that just R team? In all seriousness, the right publicist can be the key to effective crisis management. Here’s how.

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What is Crisis Management?

The word “crisis” is defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. While that may seem ominous, a crisis for your business is really any unanticipated event that could disrupt your operations and/or cause potential harm to your brand reputation including:

  • Product recalls
  • Customer injuries
  • Employee misconduct
  • Security breaches
  • Natural disasters

As such, crisis management is the art of not only responding effectively to events that have occurred, but also your strategic approach in anticipating crises.

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How Can a Publicist Help?

A publicist can help with both aspects of crisis management. For example, R team is specially trained in the communication tools and techniques necessary to react promptly and strategically in a crisis as well as in identifying any potential vulnerabilities proactively. What’s more, because of our experience in the restaurant, hospitality, retail, health and wellness, business, and non-profit industries we’re uniquely equipped to help lifestyle brands with crisis management. Specifically, the benefits of partnering with a publicist include:

  1. Peace of mind – When a crisis hits, panic often ensues and that’s when mistakes happen. Likely this isn’t something you or your team deal with every day so it’s natural to be overwhelmed and not sure what to do. A publicist can take that worry off your shoulders, acting swiftly and surely on your behalf to protect your brand in the public eye.
  2. Freeing you to focus on the crisis – Realistically, you’ve got much more to worry about in a crisis than public relations alone. Having to split your focus between what to say in public as well as to your customers while also working to resolve the crisis itself is anything but ideal. With a publicist handling the media and your message, you’re free to focus on where you’re needed most.
  3. Controlling the narrative – Speed is everything in a crisis, particularly how fast you communicate about it. It’s so much harder to change perception once it’s in the news and/or on social media than to drive the message initially. While you’re wondering who to contact and what to say, things can quickly spin out of control. You avoid that entirely with a publicist because they can help you get the right message to the right people right away.
  4. Making the most of the situation – Often it’s just as much about how you say something as it is what you’re saying. A publicist has the training and the finesse to get your message across in a way that puts your brand in the best light. Yes, you want to be authentic, honest, and transparent about the crisis, but you also want the media as well as your current and potential customers to see the bigger picture. One crisis does not have to define your brand, and with effective crisis management, it won’t.

To learn how R team of publicists can help your brand with crisis management, schedule your FREE discovery call today!

crisis communication plan

4 Reasons a Crisis Communications Plan is Essential to Any Business

Although we’re well into the new year, it’s safe to say we’re probably all still a little shell-shocked from the craziness of 2020. Not just personally but in business as well. Sure, we’re optimistically planning ahead, but if there’s ever been a time to take the familiar idiom, “hope for the best and prepare for the worst” to heart, it’s now. R view is that having a crisis communication plan is a key to doing just that. Here’s why.

What Is A Crisis Communication Plan?

Essentially, a crisis communication plan is your strategic approach to responding to an unanticipated event that could disrupt your business operations and/or damage your brand reputation. It could be a product recall, customer injury, employee misconduct or a security breach. But natural disasters and, as we’ve recently learned, pandemics can certainly qualify as a crisis for businesses too!

Why Crisis Communications is Essential to Your Business

Quite simply, s@%t happens! You can think of a crisis communications plan like insurance in a way - a safety net that’s there for you just in case.  When navigating your business through the unexpected, here’s why a crisis communications plan is essential:

  1. You won’t be caught off guard – When a crisis hits, time is essential. The longer you take to respond the quicker trust in your brand erodes, or at the very least, confusion will keep customers away. With a crisis communication plan in place, you’ll be able to provide transparency and the most appropriate messaging right away.
  2. You’ll be able to focus on resolving the crisis – In a crisis, it’s all hands on deck, right? Making it nearly impossible to prepare your communications plan and manage the crisis effectively at the same time. By preparing ahead of time, everyone knows their role in communicating, what steps to take and who to communicate with, freeing up the rest of your team to deal with the crisis itself.
  3. You’ll be able to control the narrative – One thing we in the PR industry know, is that the first message that’s out there is the stickiest, so to speak. It’s so much harder to change perception than to drive the message initially. Trial by social media is all too common these days and an effective crisis communication plan can help you get the right message to the right people instead of the wrong one going viral.
  4. Done right, you could improve your reputation – Warren Buffet once said, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Yikes, but true. On the flip side, as we’ve seen over the last year, businesses who are authentic, honest and open the lines of communication have been the ones who have thrived in spite of the circumstances. 

Check out R Take on Crisis Communications During COVID-19 and Beyond for tips that can be applied to any unanticipated situation. Or, click HERE to schedule a FREE 15 min Discovery Call and let’s get started on your crisis communications plan together!

crisis communications

R Take on Crisis Communication During COVID-19 and Beyond

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This year, the collective elephant in the room for every marketing and PR team is COVID-19. Whether it’s affecting your organization through closures, restrictions, lack of demand, supply chain delays, or any other avenues, it’s something we all need to address. But, most of us aren’t exactly sure how. We can help with crisis communication tips that can be applied now or to any unanticipated situation that can affect your brand reputation.

What is Crisis Communication?

It may sound ominous, but in general, crisis communication is simply your strategic approach in responding to any unanticipated event that could disrupt your organization’s operations and/or cause potential harm to your brand reputation such as:

  • Product recalls
  • Customer injuries
  • Employee misconduct
  • Security breaches
  • Natural disasters

And unfortunately, we can now add pandemic to the list.

Crisis Communication in Action

With the speed in which news travels today—as well as its reach—how you communicate during a crisis can dramatically impact your reputation—good or bad.

Here are some examples of misses in crisis communication:

On the other hand, these organizations got it right:

R Crisis Communication Playbook

When you have a crisis on your hands, you’re likely asking what should you be saying, how should you say it, who should you say it to, and via which channel(s)? It can get overwhelming pretty quickly so the first thing to do is take a deep breath and then:

Assess the Situation – There are a couple of layers on this one. From a broader perspective assess the type of crisis you’re dealing with, as a product recall will certainly dictate a different response than a pandemic. Then, take a look at all your currently scheduled campaigns as well as social media to see if they are still right for the current situation in voice, tone, and messaging. Don’t forget imagery too! Considering COVID-19 specifically, you don’t want to show people too close together for example. And with emotions so high right now, perhaps shift your message from an overt product focus to more of a human focus that’s empathetic and helpful. 

Respond Quickly - To control the narrative for your brand as best you can, quick action is a must. Also, consider your channels. For example, if safety concerns about your product are reported on social media first then respond there first. Expand to other channels quickly thereafter and communicate often with updates. Next, once you’ve assessed your campaigns, quickly stop any that may be perceived as insensitive to the situation. Even with campaigns you continue, consider how often you email and/or post. Too much push marketing can be seen as intrusive (and self-serving) in times of crisis.

Be Transparent - As you saw in the examples of misses above, any attempt to withhold information— whether real or perceived—will be disastrous for your brand. If the crisis is a situation in which your organization is at fault; acknowledge what happened, accept responsibility, apologize, and clearly communicate how you will move forward. Importantly, if the crisis resulted in injury, put the victim’s pain and frustration first. And avoid placing blame right off the bat. It can also be helpful to put yourself in the shoes of your audience and/or victims of the crisis to think about what you would want to know and how you would want it communicated.

Be Consistent - Not only in message but also across channels. Keep in mind that in most cases you’ll have different audiences in which you need to communicate. You’ll need to carefully craft messages that are still consistent, yet specifically speak to their concerns. Using COVID-19 as an example, if you’re a restaurant whose business hours have been restricted this will impact employees and customers. While it’s inconvenient for customers it’s potentially devastating to the livelihood of your employees, so the tone needs to be appropriate although the general message of restricted hours is the same. And consider the best way to get that message across. Social media and on-premise signage may work for customers, but would be highly inappropriate for employees.

Monitor Sentiment - Make sure to keep a close eye not only on national and local news outlets during a crisis but also on what your customers are saying on social media. And don’t forget to respond, on-message of course! Track your campaigns carefully as well. If your crisis communication approach is working, great! But still remain vigilant. If it’s not, go back to the beginning and reassess to see how you might tweak to improve communications going forward. Another option here might be to enlist the help of supporters such as brand ambassadors to create some positive influence.

Schedule a FREE 15 min Discovery Call to share your biggest communication challenge during COVID-19 or any crisis situation for your organization, and we’ll offer tips to keep your brand's reputation intact.