Luckily, media update’s Taylor Goodman is here to set things straight by busting any crisis communications myths that have been making the rounds. 

Whether you’re wondering about the best way to prevent a crisis, or how to navigate the tricky waters of online reputation management, there is a plan of action to follow. 

And, as it goes with most things, it's best to have a plan in place than to be caught with your pants down. After all, 70% of respondents in a PWC global crisis survey said that their businesses have been negatively impacted by the crisis. 

Without further ado, let's get into dispelling five of the most common crisis communication myths:

Myth #1: “All publicity is good publicity.”

Oscar Wilde once said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” This quote is reminiscent of one of the most widespread myths about the public relations field — ‘all publicity is good publicity.’

This notion insinuates that whether people are saying nice things about your brand, or ripping it to shreds, at least they’re talking about it. But what this ideal fails to take into consideration is how damaging negative press can be to a brand’s image and their reputation. 

These days, consumers are inundated with convenient purchasing options; if they don’t like your brand, or what it stands for, they are not shy to take their business elsewhere. 

Speaking of voicing their opinion, social media magnifies any bad publicity and leaves a digital footprint, so if you think one blemish on your brand’s record won’t affect its reputation in the future, you have to think again. 

Myth #2: “If we don’t say anything, this will just blow over.”

Remember what was said earlier about a digital footprint? Yeah, that can be partially to blame for brands not being able to let a crisis blow over. 

With the rising prominence of social media in our day-to-day lives, consumers have adopted an ‘always-on’ approach. They are constantly in tune with what is happening in their spaces and with the brands they support. This makes it nearly impossible for brands to go incognito during a crisis.

Additionally, as information spreads at a breakneck speed on social media, it is unlikely that PR pros can keep any story under wraps for very long. 

The best practice in this scenario is just to take any scrutiny on the chin, apologise as early on as you can and be as genuine as possible. 

Trying to bury your head in the sand will just leave a bad taste in consumers' mouths, as this will give them the indication that your brand wants to hide things from their consumer base, which could be seen as being dishonest. 

Myth #3: “That won’t happen to us!”

It is an unfortunate reality that no brand is immune to a crisis. In fact, 69% of business leaders have experienced at least one corporate crisis from 2014 to 2019 — with the average number of crises experienced in this period being three.

Take the pandemic for example. This was a crisis that plagued businesses everywhere and was something that no one saw coming. This puts into perspective just how unpredictable things could be in the business environment — one day you’re up, the next you’re down. 

For this reason, it is best to prepare for the worst. Having a crisis plan in place will help you cover your own back if things take a turn for the worst. 

For more on how to develop a crisis management plan, check out Crisis management 101: What to do when disaster strikes

Myth #4: “Social media is the enemy.”

It is a common misconception that social media is the cause of brands being exposed online and that, without it, the severity of a crisis wouldn't be as bad.

However, this isn't the case. Rather, crisis communications and social media are closely intertwined and these platforms essentially put a magnifying glass on any missteps. 

For example, if your brand comes under fire for saying something offensive online, and then gets flack for going on to make an insincere apology, that's not social media’s fault. 

As social media is a tool that brings brands closer to its followers, it can either be a platform that either works for you or against you. It all depends on how you use it. 

Myth #5: “It's impossible to come back from a crisis.”

The last myth we need to dispel is that, once your brand’s reputation takes a hit, there’s no going back. This, however, couldn't be further from the truth. A crisis should be something that makes your brand come back stronger and better than before. 

Handling a crisis with tact and empathy will help you not only recover from a misstep but build a stronger brand in the long run. 

An example of a brand that went through a crisis and came out stronger is KFC. The UK branches of the fried chicken brand experienced supplier issues that led them to close multiple establishments. 

Instead of becoming frazzled under the pressure, the brand addressed the problem head-on and apologised to customers in a well thought out ad. 

*Image courtesy of Logan H

By acknowledging the issue, apologising timeously and adding humour to the situation, the brand managed to get away from the situation relatively unscathed. 

What steps should a brand take to rebuild its reputation after a slip-up? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Want to learn more about the role of cancel culture in PR? Then be sure to check out You’re #cancelled, now what?
*Image courtesy of Pixabay