Turning Negative Publicity into Positive PR

In the digital age, every company needs to be prepared for the possibility of a PR crisis.  The key to turning a negative into a positive situation is careful planning and a proactive mindset of using the crisis as a tool for reaching out. When handled well, a crisis can in fact offer PR benefits to a brand during and after it arises.

Many companies don’t have a crisis communications plan. Your organization will be pushed to its limits. Having a crisis communications plan in place will enable you to act at speed in facing the crisis and dealing with the issues in hand. During a crisis a brand’s messaging needs to be consistent and authentic. Everything the business says and does must be aligned with the brand values, tailored to the publics who influence its future.

Establish the Facts

Speed of response, honesty and empathy are the most crucial things following an issue or crisis.  To tackle the crisis head-on, obtain solid facts before you communicate. Gather information on what happened, why, how it could have been prevented and the current status on rectifying the issue. Get ahead and implement an action plan prepared for likely scenarios.

Strike the right balance whilst trying to establish the facts against the time pressure of having to communicate. In today’s fast news cycle and public scrutiny on social media, there’s a need to get information out fast.  Do not go public with anything inaccurate, as it will certainly backfire later. In fact, if you know what the gaps are in your information, you can say you are still investigating the issue and that you will be providing timely updates on the situation. Honesty will boost your credibility and regain trust in your brand.

Step up Engagement

You can benefit from the fact that your stakeholders want to hear from you more than ever during a crisis. ​ Engage in two-way conversation and take on-board feedback to improve things. They will appreciate the fact that you value them and are reaching out to them. Prove to your customers and stakeholders that they are important and listened to.

People respond emotionally in a crisis, so managing and reporting on sentiment needs to inform your communications. The attention span is long because they are actively looking for information about your company.  Allowing two-way communication and effective engagement will build trust and relationships with your brand during and after the crisis.

After the Crisis

Activate an advocacy plan in the immediate aftermath of the crisis to promote the positive steps your company is taking to build back the confidence of stakeholders and by highlighting something new happening in your organization.  Identify positive stories and develop a PR plan for the release of news about your business.

After you solved the crisis, return to your audience for feedback on what you did well, what you could have done better and how your messaging was received. Analyse media coverage, monitor social media, and conduct surveys to determine sentiment.  Update your crisis plan by determining whether you were adequately prepared, whether you addressed the right audiences and how well prepared you were for the situation.

Every crisis brings lessons, and you could discover opportunities to leverage to position your brand for future success. Your reputation will be stronger if you manage this well.