Crisis PR - 5WPR CEO Ronn TorossianKnowing how to respond and doing so without hesitation are vital when dealing with a public relations crisis.

Here are some of the ways we suggest if faced with a media crisis:

Take responsibility..

Remember that scene in the movies when Harrison Ford advises the President on how to deal with questions from the press. It went something like if they ask if he was a friend, you say he was a dear friend….if they call him a close friend, you say, lifelong friend. If you remember and follow that advice when you are faced with your PR nightmare, it will serve you well. Don’t make excuses or blame someone else, even if it is their fault. Stand front and center and stand tall. At the same time, have at least a ghost of an idea on how to make it right so you can hint at those plans or spell them out completely if you know the plan already.

Address the situation quickly and directly…

As fast as you can begin responding to the situation, you should be there. Even if you do not have any information yet, Get the word out you just learned and are waiting for further information. Assure people you will keep them updated … and make certain you do. Even if you have nothing new to report, especially in situations where people’s lives are at risk or have been lost. The silence for those waiting is unbearable and keeping in constant contact may be the only thing you can do for them in that time. You need to do it and be thinking of what you can do to help those waiting, so they have something of comfort or ease.

Lead the conversation – frame the story…

Be open and transparent, but be in charge of your story. Think fast on your feet. Is it better to let someone rant and look like a crazy person, or find a means to stop them in their tracks. If what is said is true, own it.

Be prepared…

Crisis management will always be a lot easier if you have information prepared in advance. You may not know what crisis will arise, but you know the variables for most situations. Spend time with your team on a regular basis brainstorming what things might go wrong and what would be the best approach. Having that type of information already prepared allows you to hit the ground running and look like a star even in the middle of the crisis – and of course media training matters.

Control messaging…

The more prepared you are for whatever the crisis is, the better you can control your message. If you have a list of experts or videos of experts, you can refer to those immediately. If you need to know who can get sandwiches, or blankets, or a gathering place and already have that at your fingertips, you can then focus on the real work. Then ferret out details and relay information in helpful and compassionate ways.


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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.



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