Basics of successful crisis PR
Posted 31 Jan 2023
For any company, a crisis is a challenge that must be properly handled. Especially if there is hardly any experience with crisis PR, there is a risk that some statements will be misinterpreted. At the same time, dealing adequately with such a situation can also be an opportunity to strengthen your own image.
Crisis PR – It encompasses all measures and strategies that serve to prevent or at least minimize negative consequences such as loss of trust or damage to image in the context of crises and conflicts. However, crises can affect anyone; their sudden and unexpected occurrence makes them unpredictable. Due to the rapid speed of today’s digital world, information is spreading faster, which means that a lack of information can lead to misinformation and fake news even faster. In such situations, there is often a threat of a so-called shitstorm, which means a sudden and mass perceived appearance of critical postings in social networks and the media. In order to effectively prevent such a crisis situation, various preventive measures are required.
Shitstorms are caused by different factors. Elements that most shitstorms share in their genesis are disappointment about a product or service of the manufacturer, unprofessional or misleading behavior of the company in public and or a violation of ethical or moral standards. It is therefore important to identify possible weak points in advance and to plan a “worst case scenario”. This way, companies are better prepared for a possible shitstorm. It also makes sense to prepare guidelines for employees, as well as information material and lists of contacts for the press.
One way to detect shitstorms at an early stage is to actively use social listening. This allows companies to keep track of how they are perceived by the public.
Learn more about social listening and how to integrate it into your communications strategy here:
If a shitstorm does occur, it is important to respond to it in a thoughtful way. It is important that the measures taken contain the shitstorm and help to optimize the company’s image. In order to deal with the crisis in a confident manner, it is important not to react too quickly, but to wait for the right moment until the tense situation has eased somewhat.
The formulation of the message should be clear and understandable, and also indicate the next steps and the will to act. It would be optimal to subsequently provide regular and transparent updates on the development of the issue so that it cannot lead to a renewed shitstorm. The entire company should implement the “One-Voice-Policy” communication concept, which means that everyone speaks with the “same voice”, i.e. with the same content and statements to the press or stakeholders. Ideally, there is no further follow-up after a statement, but it makes sense to offer an opportunity to make contact. In such a situation, the manager should be present both internally and externally to support internal transparency and strengthen the cohesion behind the “One-Voice-Policy”.
Depending on the size of the company, internal communication can be supported by an employee meeting and individual discussions, thus helping to ensure that the issue is taken seriously, and the mood is improved. It is important to present the current situation realistically and openly so that employees can form their own opinion. The general conditions and causes are also an important foundation of such a discussion.
Foremost, it is important to get the rumors out of the way in order to maintain a company’s image and regain the public’s trust. These aspects help to put the company in the right light so that it can continue to build on the support of the groups involved. Most companies invest enormous amounts of time and financial power in marketing, PR and public relations to build a brand that is heard, seen and recognized by society. These past successes can quickly be undone by a shitstorm. That’s why it’s so essential to respond to shitstorms.
Not every negative reaction to a topic has worshipful proportions, so it is necessary to check in advance whether it is a minor shitstorm or a major and serious case. This can be determined by the following three criteria:
How widespread is the negative reaction, how many people are affected and feel the same? This can be determined through social listening, for example.
First, it is important to determine how long the comments have existed and contributed to the spread, of the misinformation.
This can also be determined by reviewing the comments. This makes it uncomplicated to see if the negative reaction has only recently arisen and can therefore be countered even more easily.
This depends on several factors at once. On which platform did the shitstorm develop? If it is a large social media platform such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, each with 2 billion users, a shitstorm avalanche can develop quite quickly. It is also important to consider who the articles are accessible to and how many are actually reached by them.
Communication is the key to success and achieving the goal in such a difficult situation.
The goals in crisis PR are to maintain and regain customer and public confidence. This can only be achieved by taking preventive measures and, if it should come to that, interacting in an understanding and comprehensible way in social media as a self-confident “one-voice-policy”. After such a scandal, the public often needs time. The company should use this time to be better prepared and armed for future publications. In addition, continuous improvement and reparation will then take place. This is the only way to achieve the goal of crisis PR.
The fact that HBI has been extremely successful on the market for over 40 years and is still independent says a lot about our work. Therefore, we are happy to advise and help you through your crisis PR. Contact us at email@example.com and our professional team will offer you a support in your crisis PR.
Communication Advisor at HBI Helga Bailey GmbH – International PR & MarCom
Annika Müller has been supporting HBI in the areas of PR and marketing since 2022.
As a Communication Advisor, her responsibilities include the creation of professional articles & the conceptualization of social media postings.
Furthermore, Annika is involved in directly assisting our client work.