After reading the above PR horror stories, obviously just around Halloween, one has to wonder as to what you do if you do have problems in your organization and business. So here’s a fast FAQ on how PR can help you deal with a crisis and not use it as a cover-up.
Q. Why do companies/organizations attempt to cover-up some error?
A. Because they are embarrassed and the perceived admission of error is deemed to be more detrimental than covering it up. The key word here is coverup – that indicates or plays into the idea that something is not being disclosed because there was foul play. It puts the company at risk.
Q. Is it wise to try and cover something up or is it better to come clean and move forward?
A. The best foot forward is to always clean it up and move forward. Unless there was intentional foul play, there is an exact way to clean up some error and move forward to repair the situation for all concerned and still retain good PR – even improve it as you go along. That is in the sphere of Crisis Management – and if its sub-category, Reputation Management, has been done correctly up to that point, the work here can be leveraged to help clean it up.
Q. Why are cover-up PR Campaigns a bad idea?
A. It puts the company at risk to have to cover-up many things that they think could expose the past error. Company execs and PRs no longer are looking outward, but are internalized into stopping further or prospective-future damage – the goal of PR ends up being perverted at that point and steadily goes downhill, creating more lies and more mistakes until the cover-up blows up and the original problem is much bigger…destruction ensues – it starts out insidious and then becomes the target of public disgrace and attacks down the road.
Q. How can using PR to coverup backfire on you?
A. See above. See this story – this is a good example of how questionable behavior was blown way out of proportion by this type of cover-up and ended up causing probably a hyper-problematic situation…
And see earlier JoTo Out: http://karlajohelms.posterous.com/joto-out-murdoch
Q. What is the best action to pursue after there was a screw up?
A. Determine what/who caused it, why it happened and what you have to put in place to ensure it does not happen again – frankly just common business sense. But the communication of it and how you repair it to the public via “public relations” is very technical. It depends on who the “public” is (target markets) and what effect the error had on them – just a blanket communication that tries to end any upset to “everyone” just pours salt in the wound. What you would say to Joe Schmo consumer is not the same concern/communication that Mary Sue Stockholder wants to hear. The strategy of how all this fits together is what a Crisis Management PR would know what to do – this is worked out in detail to the nth degree before executed…when that is done, the execution is relatively simple and will end in a resolution and handled.
When not done correctly you get into damage control as the only measure of safety – and that is no safety net at all. http://karlajohelms.posterous.com/has-bps-pr-campaign-failed-to-clean-up-its-re
Plus you cannot WAIT to figure out what to do or if you should do something – if you are thinking that, you most likely NEED to do something that waiting to figure it out only exacerbates the crisis http://karlajohelms.posterous.com/toyota-ponders-pr-and-marketing-response-as-p