According to PwC’s 2019 Global Crisis Management Survey, 80% of the 120 UK organisations that took part had experienced at least one crisis in the past five years. And, more than half of the total 2,084 businesses surveyed across 43 countries felt they responded too slowly to a crisis.
With rising consumer expectations and the immediacy of social media communications, a crisis can quickly flare up if it’s not handled promptly. But acting too hastily without having a crisis plan in place can be equally as damaging for a brand.
Managing a crisis situation
From experience we know that every crisis is different and therefore each situation requires a tailored crisis management plan. What is consistent however is the way in which we at PRG Marketing Communications approach a crisis situation.
When a crisis strikes we will:
- Provide honest, consistent support and guidance
- Devise a tailored strategy to effectively manage the situation
- Give you strategic advice on how to respond to journalists
- Handle all media enquiries
- Write statements for all audiences
- Monitor social media mentions enabling us to react, if necessary
Upon receiving instruction from you, we will take a full brief and then promptly prepare a strategy document, detailing our plan of action with proposed timeframes.
We have experience of handling a variety of crisis situations. These have involved a combination of crisis PR, media liaison and reputation management to varying degrees. Here are just a few examples of cases we have dealt with.
Reputation management to protect a brand
PRG was called upon by a world leading security print company for reputation management support when the company directors were accused of corrupt payments made to public officials for contracts in Kenya and Mauritania.
The client saw PRG as a reliable partner to handle this very sensitive and potentially damaging situation, having supported them previously by organising events, designing brochures and creating content for the company website.
It was clear to PRG that swift action was required, yet before a crisis plan could be implemented it was important that we understood the full story. We therefore arranged an urgent meeting with the company directors to find out the facts and whether the accusations were valid.
With a clearer insight, we then drafted a press statement for the company directors implicated in the allegations and handled all journalist enquiries from local, regional and national press.
In doing so, we ensured that we safeguarded our client’s reputation and that we made the company’s voice heard. However, when the directors were later convicted and given jail sentences, sadly we could not prevent the negative media coverage that followed.
Preventing a negative story from going viral
When an unreasonably one-sided story was published on the front page of a trade newspaper about our boiler manufacturer client, alleging that a product failure had led to a fire, PRG acted quickly to put a stop to the bad publicity.
Time was of the essence, since the newspaper was already in circulation, so our aim here was to act fast to stop the negative story from spreading further.
Having brought the story to the attention of our client, we arranged a conference call with the company directors hours later to find out whether there was any truth behind the allegations. We then presented a carefully constructed argument to the trade newspaper’s publishing director explaining why the report was unbalanced.
Although it was too late to halt circulation of the newspaper, by convincing the publisher to remove the story online, we prevented the story from spreading virally and damaging the brand for years to come.
Crisis management to handle a tragedy
Personnel crises – whether related to employee misconduct or a tragedy – can be the most difficult cases to handle resulting in a serious backlash against the company if not handled fairly and sensitively.
So, when an Eastbourne bus operator approached PRG explaining one of its drivers had been tragically crushed to death between two buses in a freak accident, PRG was quick to acknowledge the severity of the crisis.
Tragic events can leave employees shaken and distracted so we encouraged our client not to delay in announcing the devastating loss to fellow colleagues.
First we drafted two statements for immediate issue by the Chairman – the first for employees notifying them of the tragic loss and extending his deepest condolences, and the second for circulation to the local press announcing that the Health and Safety Executive would conduct an immediate investigation into the incident. Upon confirmation of the funeral, we then drafted a second press statement confirming a 2 minute silence would be observed as a mark of respect on the day of the funeral, which again was distributed to local media.