10 Tips on How to Manage Crisis PR Communications

In an interview for New Zealand Business Magazine, Public Relations Crisis PR Communications Consultant Fleur Revell was asked to provide her top 10 Tips on How to Manage Crisis PR Communications (for maintaining your brand’s image in the eyes of the media):

  1. Tell the truth and tell it quickly and clearly.
  2. Establish a crisis response team, made up of official spokespeople, plus legal and Crisis PR communications counsel. Discuss the key messages and objectives you want to impart. (For example, the key messages for a product recall, could be: protection of consumers; withdrawal of products from supermarket shelves; the establishment of an 0800/toll free phone number for consumer questions; inform customers that the situation is under control; and mitigate any brand damage.)
  3. Make sure that the company spokespeople are all briefed on the situation and give them media training if appropriate.
  4. If reporters contact you directly, take notes and tell them the appropriate spokesperson will call them to answer their queries. Seek advice before going back to them. Remember that you do not have to reply on the spot – respond only when you have all the information available. (NB: If they say they’re on deadline, ask for a time frame for your reply and ensure you meet this time frame!)
  5. Establish a press office for news flow. This will ensure there is no misinformation and that all facts are reported correctly. It will also take the heat off you so your Crisis PR communications team can deal with media inquiries and provide additional information as it unfolds.
  6. Keep the media updated on the positive way you are responding to the crisis (sell the solution).
  7. If necessary, set up an 0800/toll free number (manned by fully briefed staff) for customers to contact you directly with concerns. This gives immediacy to the problem. The number can also be listed on your website and in Crisis PR communications media releases.
  8. Provide your crisis team with any key facts or new information as it unfolds. And when necessary provide experts.
  9. Keep a record of all information released and queries you’ve responded to. Debrief, review and evaluate your company’s response and ensure that all crisis materials (protocols and policies) are updated following the event.
  10. When the crisis has passed, communicate to the media how quickly you responded to the crisis, the positive outcomes for customers/consumers, and the steps you’ve taken to prevent such events from occurring again.