Hi – how are you in a PR crisis? If someone flew past you at 110mph and hit a tree, what would you do? What if everyone had filmed it because they were actually waiting to see a supercar? What if they were all gathered there for your event?
This is a true story which caused huge upset in the local and car enthusiast communities. The driver and his passenger are going to be OK – everyone’s first concern – but the videos went viral and had some heated discussion in the comments. The event organiser is a responsible business owner who’d done everything by the book. The crash was unrelated to the event, but he wanted to know how to phrase the statement the viral nature of the incident demanded. I helped him out and his post got 150 likes and lots of supportive comments. Here are my top tips for handling a PR crisis or an unexpected incident.
1 Alert all employees and tell them NOT to speak to the press or to post any details on social media.
2 Put out a holding statement as quickly as possible. This doesn’t need to say much beyond recognising the incident and that you’re investigating/dealing with it/monitoring the situation.
3 Gather as much information as you can from police, those involved and any other agencies. Decide whether you need legal advice.
4 Take your lead from the police or whichever authority is in charge.
5 Make a full statement. Keep it brief and generic. Remember that if an arrest has been made you cannot report any details which may jeopardise a trial – this includes publishing on social media. If you publish details of people involved or evidence you could be held in contempt of court.
6 Continue to monitor the situation, have one point of contact for enquiries and don’t be tempted to speculate.
I would always recommend taking legal advice and contacting an experienced PR professional in the event of a PR crisis – it’s just not worth the risk to your reputation and bottom line.
My client Ferguson Legal and I were working on a three part blog series breaking down the Corporate Manslaughter Act when the Grenfell Tower tragedy happened. As the horror of the event unfolded, leading figures like MP David Lammy started calling it corporate manslaughter. We added in an extra post to the schedule explaining the likely process of the investigation and whether there was in fact a case. Read Carole’s legal opinion here
The sun was shining so I headed outside to film my latest video blog: “How to write a press release”. SBNN.co.uk liked it so much they’ve put it on their contact page so people know how they like to receive news releases! Watch it HERE
I was so chuffed to read in The Yard’s blog that their chief executive, Celine Sinclair, had won Leading Light at the Scottish Charity Award. I would have missed this news if I hadn’t been checking out their website – which is one of the reasons I always tell clients to have a blog! It’s a great way to publish your news on your own terms. Read more HERE
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