How to Attack a PR Crisis: Big or Small, Notice It all

By: Katelyn Sweet — Contributor


Little mistakes or giant errors, crises come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing remains the same—we have to take charge and attack them all with professionalism and strategic motion. Exhale deeply and take note of these tips, because when working in a communications field, being prepared for conflict isn’t an option, it’s a priority.

1). Don’t avoid the problem.

Recognize something went wrong and own up to the misstep in time. Light will be shed on the issue regardless of how well you try to control things. Realize your brand or company will be scrutinized and establish a way to appropriately respond to the criticism. Strategically think of the best way to manage the problem, but don’t ignore it.

2). Step up and make it right.

Once you have identified the problem, do what you can to re-earn the trust of your audiences. Each issue has a different aspect of reputation management, from a published misprint, to an event gone horribly wrong, an apology is always necessary.

3). Establish a team.

Crisis communication requires a special set of trained individuals to make sure the message is consistent. Delegating specific PR pros to handle the media and public will make the repair process run smoothly. Plus, selecting certain teammates to manage the crisis will allow others to continue daily business.

4). Be proactive with a plan B.

Anticipate problems and actively work to stop them. Sometimes, the first plan isn’t going to go the way you have laid out, recognize this and rethink it. PR is about innovating the new and mastering what is done. Think of multiple ways to handle all aspects of your brand or company and check the list twice.

5). Whatever you do, don’t do it again.

People can be tough. Criticism will happen when a crisis occurs and some people are more forgiving than others. But, if the same mistake happens again, the process of renewing the public’s opinion will not be nearly as bearable. That being said, learn from mistakes, everyone is human.


Katelyn Sweet is a senior at Central Michigan University with a public relations major and journalism minor. She is the director of recruitment for CMU PRSSA and assistant director of PR for Grand Central Magazine. With a variety of passions, Katelyn loves fashion, traveling, music, sports and all things related to chocolate or wine. She’s a city girl at heart with an unconditional love for a Michigan summer on the lake, therefore hoping to take her PR career to a city on the water somewhere.

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