Are You Ready for Your First PR Crisis of 2020?

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By Marc Silverstein

We’re early in 2020 and already examples of public relations crises are hitting the fan all around the globe:

  • Boeing keeps taking it on the chin amid continued embarrassments over its 737 Max safety problems.
  • The British Royal Family is roiling from the ongoing Harry-and-Meghan tabloid-headline fest.
  • Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reputation was singed by criticism of his response to that nation’s horrific wildfires as well as his climate-change-denial posture.
  • And the jury is literally still out on the impeachment of President Trump.

It’s easy enough to shrug off these PR debacles as somebody else’s problem, but let’s step back and get introspective for a moment. What can we learn from these examples? 

If you run a company or a nonprofit, this would be a great time to gather a couple of your trusted lieutenants and spend a lunch hour or two looking ahead and thinking through your own exposure to reputational risks and potential crises.

As you do that, ask yourselves these questions:

  1. Do we have a crisis communications plan? If so, when did we last update it? And when did we last role play it to make sure we all know what to do?
  2. Do we know our media landscape? What news outlets would cover us if we’re suddenly at the center of a crisis (either ours or someone else’s)? Have we established relationships with any reporters and editors?
  3. Are we ready when we have a social media fail, or run into a series of critical online reviews?
  4. Who would be put out front as our spokesperson? Has that individual received media training? Is he or she ready for prime time?
  5. Do we have our act together on messaging? Who are we, what do we stand for, and what narrative do we want out there in the mind of our audiences?
  6. Are we social media savvy? What are people saying about us, if anything, on Twitter and other platforms? Are we proactive and responsive and on message?
  7. Where (and who and what) are our weak links?

Those questions are really just for starters. We spent a couple hours recently getting into the crisis PR weeds with a group of high-level communications pros during a professional development session. Have more questions? Just drop me an email: marc@onthemarcmedia.com.

Marc Silverstein is founder and CEO of On The Marc Media.



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