A PR crisis can be disruptive for any organization, no matter how big or small. From a cybersecurity attack to a product recall, a negative incident can have powerful repercussions.

However, the way PR and marketing professionals handle the situation could have a notable impact on how well the business bounces back. Here are some do’s and don’ts executives should follow to navigate a PR crisis.

When talking about crisis management, early and even-keeled reaction is key. Keep stakeholders — both internal and external — informed of the situation. Be sure to respond quickly to customers and explain the situation in order to maintain trust.

Show your clients that the company is accepting whatever mistakes were made and is now working towards rectifying the mistake. If you can address consumers before the industry press or local media break the news, you’ll be in an even better position.

Embracing transparency is not just good ethics — it’s also a savvy strategy when dealing with a PR mess. Demonstrate that you’re committed to being honest and open to feedback during this challenging time.

Your marketing team can do this by leveraging the power of human connection. Strive to be warm, friendly and positive when replying to complaints, questions or comments. Customers and stakeholders should feel that they are getting personal attention from a human being.

Although PR professionals may be particularly eager to speak in support of the company, a defensive message could drive the public to turn against the organization. It can also cause more problems by propagating a negative image.

Choose your words carefully, and perhaps stick to an acknowledgement, apology or assurance.

Don’t fall back on the “no comment” response — it could be perceived as a refusal to acknowledge the problem.

It also shows a lack of concern regarding the situation and might make the company look guilty, fearful or panicked. Instead, address the issue head-on and be vocal about the changes the business is making to correct the mistake and improve in the future.

No brand is immune to PR nightmares, but calmly and swiftly responding to a negative incident could help minimize damage to the organization and its reputation. For more tips on how to handle a PR crisis, see the accompanying infographic.


News Exposure provides a variety of media monitoring services.

About David H Lasker

David H Lasker

David H Lasker is the founder and CEO of News Exposure, a digital content solutions company specializing in media research and monitoring. Lasker has over 25 years of experience in the industry and focuses on TV and radio broadcast monitoring, media intelligence, and PR analysis.
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