Sometimes controversy rears its ugly head in your business. Whether you wake up one morning to unexpectedly find an unflattering story in the newspaper, or the trouble has been brewing for awhile, there are ways to make sure that you mitigate any public relations damage and see your company through to the other side of the storm.
If you follow these 10 steps, you will be prepared to handle public relations controversy even before it appears:
1. Be prepared with facts and figures so you can respond quickly. Time is of the essence when something about your business is being called into question, and the more time you take to pull your facts and figures together, the more time your attackers have to strike.
2. Make a list of questions a reporter or member of the public might ask, and then prepare answers. No question should be too leading, tricky or difficult to make your list. Come up with answer for them and discuss those answers with your lawyer. Also think of ways to frame any topics of controversy in a more flattering light for your company.
3. Tape your spokesperson answering these questions. Analyze the video and give her pointers to make sure she sounds calm, confident and trustworthy.
4. Ask your counsel for advice. Your lawyers or financial advisors will be able to school you on just what exactly should and should not be said to the press. Also, advise them – before controversy ever strikes – what aspects of your organization you absolutely cannot discuss with the public.
5. Compile the direct phone numbers, fax numbers and emails for key media contacts so you can reach them quickly should controversy strike after hours.
6. Use a 24-hour press release distribution service to get info out as soon as possible. If the story is national news, you may be overwhelmed by media attention. A press release service is an efficient way to get your message out to the press alongside your detractor’s attacks.
7. Have documents available on your website so reporters can access them easily. You can bet that, during a controversy, the press and the public will be turning to the internet for answers.
8. Have a way to track what the press says about you during a crisis situation. Media monitoring services such as Cision and Vocus can handle your crisis coverage.
9. Know your allies. All of you may have common ground for attacking or soothing your critics.
10. Expose your attackers’ hidden motives. Often critical attacks are the result of misinformation or a hidden agenda. Know your enemies and watch their movements so that you can be prepared for their attacks and quickly get to the root source of the problem.
There will be a time in the lifecycle of almost every company where it faces controversy in one form or another. If you can take these 10 steps, you will be prepared for the controversy storm before it strikes.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: http://www.ereleases.com/press_release_samples2.html