Public relations constantly changes. This change can bring exciting opportunities, but also unpredictable crises. Since crises can happen at any time, companies must know how to handle them. When it comes to damage control, the gang in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” are pros at this point with the awful situations they create. Here are a few basic tips to handling crises from the gang.
- Be responsive in a timely manner, but have a polished response before reacting.
As Dennis Reynolds states, we live in the age of the 24-hours news cycle. If a scandal happens, the news will get out sooner rather than later. To create trust and transparency among consumers, brands need to acknowledge the crisis and take responsibility. By responding quickly, brands leave limited time for the instance to spiral out of control. However, the response must be a polished message that quickly gets to the point, so consumers do not get distracted. If this happens, brands can enter a new crisis, such as advocating for an international terrorist organization while trying to defend the fact that you mistook Boko Haram for Boca Raton. Without thinking before reacting, brands enter the 24-hour cycle all over again.
- Stick to the facts.
Always give the public the facts of the situation and how the public relations department is handling it. Even if the company does not have a course of action, make consumers aware that you are assessing the problem. By omitting facts, consumers may think that the brand has something to hide. While tensions run high in times of crisis, brands should refrain from entering social arguments and instead respond only with the basic facts of the situation and the course of action. People are more likely to forgive a mistake than a lie fed to them to control emotions. Whether explaining how the scandal happened or why you should not have to pay parking tickets for being trapped in a hotel closet for four days, honesty is always the best policy to maintain credibility.
- Always have a plan just in case.
While no company wants to be involved in a crisis, they should have a course of action just in case. Much like visits from the health inspector, companies cannot predict a scandal. To avoid chaotic situations, such as hiding a chicken, steak and airline miles scheme while trying to pass a health inspection, set a firm course of action and social media guidelines to use in a scandal. Making everyone aware of the protocol eliminates different voices coming from the company and limits immediate emotions during a crisis. Companies cannot always avoid crises, but by having a plan, they can make sure their employees know that the dumpster must be at least six feet away from the entrance at all times and other important protocol measures.
Sarah Kelly is a senior double majoring in strategic communication and marketing. Give her a follow on Twitter @s_kelly14.