Don’t Make PR Problems Worse, Act Responsibly
Recently you’ve probably heard about a number of large companies that have had major public relations problems occur. These include the breach at Target Corporation, the unfortunate comments made by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and the various automobile recalls. Public relations problems don’t just happen to large companies they can happen to any size company. Any single negative event that occurs can be devastating to a company. However, how a company handles the damage control may determine whether the company continues to just survive or to thrive. Here are ten things to keep in mind to positively deal with negative public relations.
1. First always have a plan in place to deal with these types of situations. You may not know the exact problem that may occur, but have a plan in place, an outline of action. That way you can move quickly to deal with the problem if one does occur.
2. Have a handpicked predetermined team that will be assigned to handle the problem. Let people know in advance what will be expected of them. Make sure you designate one person who is the point of contact for public comment.
3. Remember mistakes go viral quickly. Within minutes the news can spread easily across the internet. Make sure your response information comes out quickly as well and is succinct.
4. Communication is the key part. Most companies worry about legal questions first and everything they do after that is limited by the legal concerns. Yes legal concerns do play a part in any response, but by failing to do anything because of fear of legal action you can actually make things worse.
5. People want to know what is going on. As soon as you have solid facts or information let your customers know what has happened. People can sense when they aren’t being reasonably informed. Always be truthful and properly detailed with what is made public.
6. Let the customers affected know what you will do to solve the problem. This may include clarifying the extent of the problem. The goal is to alleviate customer’s fears, but make sure everything that is said is truthful. You may only have this one chance to regain customer’s faith.
7. Let customers know how you will work to make sure this will not happen in the future. Customers want to know they can depend on you. It’s all about rebuilding trust.
8. You will need to work to rebuild your customers’ faith in you and your company. Don’t compound the problem by handling the clean up poorly. The clean up process as communicated to your customers is your chance to shine and show them what you’re made of as a company.
9. You don’t want to handle the clean up problem. But know this; your customer wants to handle the clean up even less. It is easy for your customer to go to a competitor. Once that happens you may have lost the customer for life.
10. Give your customers more than they expect to solve the problem. Be creative. Limit the number of steps or actions a customer has to take advantage of any remedy you offer. Give them value to make them whole.
Handling bad PR events requires taking swift, well thought out action that is properly communicated to your affected customer base. Don’t forget the most important piece; make sure you have a plan in place.