Press releases used to be faxed. Editors were at local papers for 30+ years. Journalists knew what agencies and PR pros represented the various companies in town. If a company executive was caught in an affair with a subordinate, it wouldn’t be news.
Shi*t changes. Call it good or bad, it doesn’t matter. If an executive of a large company is caught with his pants down, it’s all over the news and not a single reporter called with a courtesy “heads up.”
Crisis communication has evolved, what was once considered embarrassing is now a headline. PR Pros used to have days, weeks, heck even months to craft a statement in response to a crisis, oftentimes before the crisis was even in the news. Now, we have hours, sometimes less than that.
Lessons in Accountability
Everyone and their mother is watching you. It’s hard to be a closet racist nowadays, someone is always listening. Offhanded comments made in a meeting are shared through the company’s chat channels before the meeting is even over. Employees are your best brand ambassadors and they’re also your best accountability partner. If leadership isn’t living out the values they are preaching, then your employees are going to take notice and share with everyone.
The Dust Won’t Settle
As the famous Kelly Rossman would say – own, apologize, fix. There is no “wait and see.” Many companies don’t want to pay for crisis management whether it’s in preparation for a potential crisis or in response to one. They think if they ignore it, it’ll go away.
SpinSucks says when brands don’t react immediately to actions or remarks that their audiences consider offensive, they are viewed as being insensitive or even complicit in the offense.
There is No One Size Fits All
Issuing a generic, emotionless statement ,which has more than likely been written and edited no less than 15 times, is not your best move. Everyone knows you’re full of sh*t and just trying to cover your ass.
Own it, apologize for it and take action to fix the damn thing you screwed up. This can be done in a variety of ways, but we’re not going to spill our secrets. You’ll just need to hire us to find out how to cover your ass.
The Media is Unforgiving
To be blunt, the mainstream media does not give a flying f*ck about your statement and they have no qualms calling it like they see it. If you made a racist comment, they are going to refer to you as a racist. If your comment was misogynistic, you’re a sexist.
Tweets, TikToks, Reels and More
Instagram, Meta (gross), TikTok, Twitter and all their users are out there breaking news on the regular. More people get news from their Twitter feed than they do CNN.
Traditional media are not the only ones reporting on bad behavior, does anyone remember the Twitter account from a staffer inside the Trump White House? Staffers were reporting on Trump’s behavior and it drove him batty (well more so than he was).
Every single company nowadays should have a crisis plan and it needs to take everything we’ve shared in this blog into account.