PR is dead - how many times have we all heard this in the past couple of years???? Yes, social media is becoming more important than ever but don’t forget- when crisis hit (and they will hit you for sure) it is your PR pros that will come and help you clean up the mess, most probably, created by the same people that continuously claim that our profession is dead. Let’s be honest – PR pros are the guardians of a (your) company’s reputation. Without their input, existence and advice, even the smallest of crisis can and will lead to your brand’s demise.
I recently had the privilege to spend a day with some of the world’s most innovative PR professionals and everyone pretty much agreed on one thing - in some ways everything has changed for us but in some ways, nothing has changed at all.
So, how do we continue guarding and protecting our companies’ reputations in times of constant crisis? Below are some of my most favorite tips by some of the people shaping today’s rapidly changing PR world.
1. Be clear about what we do as PR professionals! Remember these 3 Ps: we position, we promote, we protect.
2. Be brave and ask why! Don’t assume everything has been thought through. Have a quiet word with your CEO and have the courage to ask him WHY? Why things are done this way? Why are we doing this?
3. Educate your colleagues on data leaks and cyber-crime. 42% of companies have been hit by cyber-crime and $315 billion of revenue was lost last year due to data leaks. Many hacks that happen nowadays are due to human failure, not technology failure. More importantly, majority of cyber vulnerabilities come from employees who clicked on the link or opened the attachment.
4. While on the topic of data leaks, remember: communication can be recovered. If you don’t want it to be revealed don’t write about it in the first place!
5. When you are writing a press release or creating a content, don’t just think of your target group and your customers, also think of the most unfriendly eyes who could be reading it!
6. OK, so crisis hit! What do we do? In a crisis, the simplest questions are the ones a child would ask (why did this happen?) As a PR pro and as a corporation you must be able to answer this.
7. The earlier you say sorry, the earlier people will settle with you and they will settle for less.
8. While on the topic of saying sorry! Sorry is often the hardest word… but if it’s delivered with authenticity, it’s the right word.
9. The key to crisis management is survivalability - you need to come through as a better organization
10. Finally, always keep this quote by Christopher Penn in your mind: brand power makes people search for you, reputation makes them convert!