PM360 asked public relations experts how companies can deal with the spread of COVID misinformation and handle other crises that may come their way. Specifically, we wanted them to address:
- What role can PR play in helping spread accurate information about COVID and potential treatments and vaccines? What are the best methods for accomplishing this? And how can PR help alleviate people’s concerns about the vaccine?
- When a life sciences brand or company is facing negative publicity, what are some of the best tips for how to effectively manage the crisis? What are the best ways to help recover a brand’s reputation? What common missteps should be avoided?
Expect the unexpected. While you can’t anticipate every crisis situation, you can have strategies in place that best prepare you, your leadership, and your organization to manage a crisis event.
Who’s in your war room? Identify your key stakeholders and their roles. While these may be dependent on the specific situation, your core stakeholders should be consistent and understand their role in a crisis situation. It is also a good idea to identify a crisis communications agency/consultant that you can quickly bring in if necessary.
When crisis strikes, stay true to your company’s mission statement and values—and reinforce them. Also, the media, and your customers, know when you are hiding something so transparency (and if necessary, accountability) is the best approach.
Control the narrative. Monitor and assess the situation but don’t hide from it. Identifying how and through what channels to reach your audience is key, but equally important is the timeliness of your response. Keep your organizational leaders engaged but make sure you have all the facts before your spokespeople address the media.
Conduct a post-mortem. After the storm, set aside time to determine what worked well and what can be improved to better prepare you for the future.