Can a piece of PR ever be bad? Seeing bad press such as a crane collapsing and an 85 year old woman dying in a nearby house in London, this question is relevant.
But being held to account in the press with unexpected bad news is not how you want the matter handled. Crisis communications is mostly a dormant subject until the day actually happens when you need to dust off any strategy. Fast.
Seeing a wall unexpectedly fall down or scaffolding collapse on site should be handled correctly. At that point it becomes urgent. Without a clear policy in place, the matter is taken out of your hands. Social media and MSM can very quickly take control of a difficult situation for you.
Advising clients on Crisis Communications before the event can mitigate problems and how the world understands the issue as there is always another side to the matter. It may be a problem, but how it’s handled from there will have huge significance for your business.
Create a Strategy
Initially everyone will be dealing with shock. Companies will want to privately and publicly express their genuine concern for anyone affected by the accident. In this particular story, for the immediate family of the deceased woman and those neighbours who require temporary housing, the repercussions are big. They too will be in shock and disbelief and I have no doubt the organisations involved wanted to express their sadness at the situation.
Then there are the practicalities. There will be questions to answer as the story unfolds but for the crane company, the housing association and the project managers the ongoing serious messaging to oversee can be muddled. Who will be the company spokesperson? Will there be live interviews? What is the narrative? Have you pre-agreed questions with the interviewer?
Is there to be an investigation? If so the narrative will continue for some while. The Police, maybe Scotland Yard, the Specialist Crime unit, the Health and Safety Executive and the Fire Brigade will all be investigating the situation.
And then there is the speed of the situation and there may also be a lot of misinformation doing the rounds. As Churchill said: “A lie gets halfway around the world before truth puts on its boots.”
Follow a script
How you respond, how you reply will need to be carefully managed.
So, yes, a piece of PR may get your name out there, but you will want to manage that. Remember, PR is not just about the business wins, the new appointments, the company HQ moves. It’s the whole story and that can be bad. A Crisis Communications strategy can protect the strength of your brand from the impact of a crisis.