Thoughts and news from the LMA-MN – Midwest Region – Minnesota Local Group

Do’s & Don’ts of Crisis Communication

You will likely find yourself in need of crisis communication at one time or another – whether it
is a crisis in your law firm or one of your clients faces a crisis. During my time as a journalist and
in the public relations industry, I have seen these situations handled well, and I’ve seen when a
response can further damage a company’s brand or reputation. Make sure you know the do’s
and don’ts of crisis communication.

Rush a Response – When it comes to crisis communication, you have one chance to get
it right. Your first response might be your only response, so it is important the
messaging is appropriate. A crisis communication situation is a lot of pressure and
stress, and when it comes to the media, it is important to respond accurately.
Wait Too Long – On the other hand, don’t think you have all the time in the world. As I
tell all our clients, no response is a response, and it doesn’t look good. In the court of
public opinion, saying nothing often insinuates guilt. Before social media, a crisis could
“blow over.” Now the public has a way to immediately interact with a brand, and they
expect a real-time response. Don’t forget, bad press will live on for years in website
search engines.
Respond Only on Social Media – A crisis communication inquiry may come in on social
media. That doesn’t mean it is the only way you should reply. You can ask for an email
address to send a formal response. A response on social media, especially on a public
account, could be visible for years. Another media outlet can easily screen grab a
response and publish it. It’s critical to consider the audience who most needs to hear
the response and craft a strategy based on how best to reach them.
Have a Plan – Like it or not, every business must be prepared for a crisis situation. That
means knowing who to notify, how to get in touch with them after hours and who will
make the final decisions on how to respond. Having a PR partner with experience
handling crisis communication and understanding of ideal communication platforms is
critical. Inc. Magazine’s recent article made recommendations regarding finding a
Ensure Messaging is Consistent – This is something I cannot say enough. Internal and
external messaging needs to be consistent. Internal emails sent during a crisis often end
up in the hands of the media. Make sure your messaging is consistent and is aligned
with your business’ core values.
Take Crisis Communication Seriously – A crisis communication situation is serious and
must be treated that way. It deserves a formal statement, and it does matter who is
issuing that statement. If you want the media and the public to believe you understand
the severity of the situation, I recommend the company’s CEO (or equivalent) issue the
statement and outline what steps will be taken to rectify the issue.

As P. T. Barnum said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” Remember, even a crisis
situation can be an opportunity for you to message who you are and what is important to you.
If you do handle the situation well, it can help improve brand recognition and essentially be
nothing more than yesterday’s news. If you don’t , you may find your company in a crisis that
makes headlines for weeks or more.

Author bio:
Kristi Piehl is the founder of Media Minefield, a news-driven earned media agency that moves past
traditional public relations to mine stories, position experts and guarantee real news coverage. During
her 12-year television career, Kristi worked as a reporter and anchor at 5 television stations. Kristi is a
member of the Women Presidents’ Organization and C200 Protégé Class 2017. More information about
Media Minefield can be found at: media-minefield.com

At the November 13th LMA program, Kristi will give you tips to navigate the media from building a successful pitch, to delivering an impactful interview and handling a crisis. Register here!

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