Managing A PR Crisis

Feb 22, 2018

Vânia Gracio, Founder and CEO | Sing Comunicação de Resultados , Brazil |

Every company is vulnerable to crises, but talking about natural disasters, which communication strategies should we adopt? What should we do first? Who should we communicate with? 

The recent earthquake that struck Mexico in September 2017 caused troubles for one of our customers with an office in Mexico City. One of the employees who had left the office to pick up the kids at school had remained out of touch for almost 24 hours. In this particular case, the employee reappeared and everything was fine. The lack of contact was caused by power cuts and problems with the telephony network. 

Another case occurred this year at a luxury hotel in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, when a couple were found dead. This case is also noteworthy because it involved the police and press and the hotel brand had very negative exposure. The incident involved hotel guests, people with reservations, investors, press, employees etc. 

An official statement was released quickly to the press saying that the hotel was collaborating with the police and explaining that it could not give more details while the investigation was on-going. 

When facing chaos, the first decision to make is trying to contact people involved in the situation to understand the real scenario. In more serious cases, it is recommended to involve authorities and government agents and think about the proper internal and external communication to reach each group of stakeholders. A well-written Q&A is essential to avoid communication noise as well as the definition of roles in crisis management: Who must be involved? Who will be responsible for communication with each audience? Who will be the spokesperson for each stakeholder? 

The step by step for crisis communication is not difficult, but requires a well aligned team and quick transparent communication. The slower the responses are, the more damage we will see. This does not only occur in tourism, but in any industry. 

And talking about tourism, when a city is hit by an earthquake, a hurricane, a flood or terrorism for example, the situation involves even greater crisis management because the proportions are huge. 

In these cases, anticipating crises, having a well structured communications team and conducting brainstorming sessions to evaluate all potential crises is essential. The previous example also applies to private organisations. Therefore, counting on the PR agency that already manages your brand to address critical moments is the best option. The key is having competent professionals that understand your business to assist you and, who knows, will  be able to reverse a negative situation and position you in a different way. 

The tip is being part of the well prepared minority. You and all your stakeholders will benefit from it. 

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