5 Tips To Help Small Business Handle Crisis PR

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IBM Press Release - source: pd

If you watch “60 Minutes,” you know the pressure a company or person feels when it’s under media scrutiny.  But crises don’t just happen to big companies, they can also happen to small business.  An accident at the business site, a disgruntled employee reveals unflattering details about the business, or a customer complains about the company’s products or services will often bring a reporter to your door.

Here are some tips for interacting with local reporters looking for the “big scoop.”

1. If a crisis impacts the community, local news reporters may want to cover the story. Keep in mind that reporters do not have a right to be on site without permission and you can deny access.  It is important that at this point, a single manager is the spokesperson for the company. 

If the head of the company is uncomfortable talking to reporters, another senior manager is fine.  He or she should be equipped with three talking points (i.e. what happened, what is being done, how long might the situation last). Here’s a tip: If it’s still early after the incident it’s fine to say you’re gathering facts and will have information at XYZ time. This buys you a little time to get your information and talking points together.

2. Make sure that you have the contact information for key personnel (finance, HR, etc.). That means cell phone numbers, pagers, home phones, even vacation homes so that they can be reached in an emergency.  It is amazing how many crises occur after hours, on weekends or during holidays. Keep those numbers handy.

3. If you are concerned about public relations strategies, bring in an outside PR consultant to take you through the crisis. He or she can bring in an outside perspective and formulate a game plan. A seasoned PR professional who’s handled crises in the past may save your company a lot of embarrassment – and money – in the long run.

4. In the event of death or injury at the place of business, management must quickly reach out to the local authorities.  This will send a message that you are controlling the situation and working with the proper people. Never publicly divulge the names of those hurt or killed until their families have been notified.  Never speculate to the media about how the accident may have occurred.  That’s the role of the police.  When victims’ names have been released, always address the media with concern and compassion. “Our first thoughts go out to the family of our employee.”

5. Instruct your employees that only a single company spokesperson is allowed to talk with reporters and all calls must be forwarded to that person.  Do not let your receptionist talk to reporters.  Never say “no comment,” but do say you don’t know the answer to something and will get an answer as quickly as possible.  In a void, reporters will fill in the unknowns with their own opinions.

Don’t Panic

The key to addressing a crisis is to approach it with calm and forethought.  Think about your options and take the time to formulate a plan.  Don’t jump into the fray until you’ve thought the response through.

Editor’s Note: David Brimm is president of BrimmComm, a full-serve public relations agency based in the Chicago area. He has 25 years of experience in the corporate, agency and association sectors, with a specialization in working with small companies.  Visit his website at www.brimmcomm.com.

By: John Sternal

Article Source: www.NewSyndication.com 5 Tips To Help Small Business Handle Crisis PR

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