media update’s Taylor Goodman speaks to Samantha Fuller, head of communications for Yoco, about how you can be an expert at managing a crisis. 

So, what skills do you need to master when it comes to managing crises, how do you put together a top-notch crisis plan and how has social media impacted the spread of bad publicity? Read on to find out!

Let’s get into it:

People often say there is no such thing as bad publicity. Do you agree or disagree with this from a crisis comms perspective and why? 

[I] disagree! The damage from bad publicity can cause years of negative brand association. Consumers are quick to remember mistakes, and even false news, over and above the positive things a brand does.

How has social media altered the practice of crisis communications?

[I think it has changed the industry] drastically — it has certainly made things progress a lot faster. News no longer waits for the print deadline; you have to be as quick as possible to respond. [This is] because while you gather info and draft a response, social media takes no prisoners.

It unfortunately also means that incorrect news gains traction fast, so even when the issue at hand is fake news, it still reaches many people.

This ultimately means that communications [and] social media teams need to be in touch. 

Comms experts do need to prepare for everything [that can happen] on social media, in order to communicate your company’s desired messages, accurately and quickly in each respective case.

What skills do you need to be a master at managing a crisis?

The first thing you’ll need is the ability to move quickly and think clearly on your feet. Next — and possibly most importantly — [you need] skill

This is the skill of building mutually beneficial relationships. When a crisis hits, it is useful to have good relationships with quality media titles that trust what you have to say and know that they can call you for comment and you’ll meet their deadline.

What does a good crisis management plan entail? 

A good plan entails the ability to avoid the crisis entirely, by envisioning a problem before it happens. It isn’t a matter of if but when

Some of the biggest successes are those crises that don’t make the headlines. [This is] because of hard work, paired with research, to back your reasoning. 

Apart from that, clear lines of communication within the company (and across agencies), as well as the foresight to identify a possible problem before it exists, means a lot can be prepared priorly. [This] helps if several requests come your way at once.

What steps should a business take after a crisis has ensued? 

Brand repair is a delicate process and trust needs to be rebuilt. One of the best things that can be done is to forge on with integrity and transparency

People follow brands they can trust, so building back trust after it’s lost is one of the cornerstone principles of brand repair. 

PR pros, what are your tips when managing a crisis? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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If you want to learn more about crisis comms in PR, then be sure to read Myth-busting: Five myths about crisis comms busted.