'Work in PR', they said, 'It would be easy', they said. Uh, no! The public relations industry is fast-paced and ever-changing.

As a PR pro, you need to stay on top of your game and take on any opportunity that comes your way.

Still, such opportunities can also have a risk factor connected to them. Why? Because with every new brand campaign you launch, you aim to target your audience's opinion and perception with your product. 

So, what if you advertise in such a manner, without even knowing, that offends your consumers — or worse, blows up in a big publicity crisis?

If this happens, it is important to realise that your brand is in the public eye and that every consumer has the right to act on how your PR efforts make them feel

Your job is to: 
  • make sure that you don't overstep further boundaries
  • keep a clear and objective viewpoint, and 
  • when trouble arises, protect your brand at all costs.
Keep that light bulb on and make sure the switch does not trip! media update's Jana van der Westhuizen is here to help you turn the page on any crises that may arise. 

PR pros, here are some flop-proof plans to get you through any crisis: 

Get sentiment analysis in place

As a PR professional, it is essential to keep tabs on what is being said about your brand in the media.

Imagine if you are going through a PR crisis where your brand is being bashed publically about something you did, said or advertised that was perceived in a negative light. You will want to know about it, right?

If you utilise Natural Language Processing (NLP), your brand will have the ability to get feedback on certain keywords, phrases or sentences that are being used repeatedly and are associated with your brand. NLP can then furthermore classify if your mentions are positive, negative or neutral.

So, how is this helpful? Well, by knowing what keywords your consumers are using, you get insight into your consumer's behaviour and thoughts. You can use this information to strategise and refine your press releases or communication on social media to address whatever is bugging your followers. The more insights, the better!

Be transparent with the public

The first rule of the crisis game-plan is to never go into hiding mode. As difficult as it is to admit your mistake, it is better to own up to what you did than to brush it under the carpet.

With that said, you might not always be in the wrong, but remember that your consumers and their feelings always come first.

A crisis, dear PR professional, is actually your time to shine. Always be transparent in what you say and do, because honesty is a big part of rebuilding brand trust.
Here are a few steps to follow to win back your audience:

Draft a press release 
Make sure the content is thorough and that it addresses the situation head-on. Consumers don't like the fluff — they want the detail. 

Be apologetic and sincere
Remember, your audience is not stupid. When you give a statement, be humane and apologise for what has offended your consumer. Apologising and having empathy will make them feel as if you connect with them on another level.

Take to social media
Nothing spreads as fast as a Tweet! Don't just focus on traditional media, but remember that social media works in real-time and can help you reach your audience faster than any other medium. 

When you go to social media for publicity, make sure you utilise the tools that the platform offers and implement NLP tracking to see how your audience reacts to your social media statements.

Do a brand collaboration 

When disaster strikes, it is important to bounce back with a bang. One way to get back into the game and rebuild your consumer's trust is to collaborate with another brand that has a big consumer base and that is respected within the industry.

When you take on a campaign with such a company, your consumers see that you are to be trusted because another credible brand is willing to partner with you. Try to partner with brands that have a similar audience so that you reach your targeted consumers and win back some confidence from your followers.

Don't play the blame game 

Once the damage is done, you cannot undo it. And yes, after the storm has settled, you always want to point a finger at someone to make the situation look a little better.

But if you want to uphold employee morale, it is better to not shift the blame to a specific person or group. Rather sit, listen and strategise together with your team to see where the problem slipped in.

When you take a more empathetic approach to the problem, your employees feel more relaxed and you tend to get more ideas from them that can be very valuable to you. Once you have established what went wrong, you can easily revisit your campaign strategy and give your employees the necessary training or help to avoid any future problems.

Remember: Teamwork makes the dream work!

So PR pros — let's get that crisis mode on!

PR pro, what is your top tip for staying calm in crisis situations? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Want to stay informed on what is happening in the industry? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Want to learn more about how you can face a PR crisis with confidence? Then here are Five ways to handle a public relations crisis.
*Image courtesy of Unsplash