crisis public relations

Crisis management and communication is the most common PR function known to the public. This is because, unfortunately, many brands do not call on PR specialists until tragedy strikes. Giving PR a bad reputation in the public eye, as the bad guys called in to hide or spin the truth and help brands to cover up mistakes and even illegal activities.

The Real Purpose of Crisis Communications

More to the truth, crisis communications help brands prepare for, endure, survive, and thrive when controversy strikes. Just as people looking to resolve issues sometimes make arguments worse by using poorly chosen words, the same happens when companies tackle tough media issues on their own.

PR experts are familiar with how journalists spin stories making them sensational, or take them out of context, and can prepare spokespersons to speak carefully, clearly, and effectively.

The Greatest Challenge of Crisis Communications

While the new 24/7 news cycle is a blessing when there’s good news to share, it becomes a curse when companies want to keep a low profile. Journalists publish mistakes immediately to be the “first to market”; giving companies less time to formulate a proper strategy and careful responses.

Many executives also go to sleep after tiny problems pop up, and wake up to a huge catastrophe. This tends to happen when the story passes through several news media platforms; each one trying to create a more sensational story than the next. As a result, pushing positive messages in these instances can be a daunting task.

The Importance of Training

Public relations specialists can take media calls, work with journalists, write, and distribute press releases. However, some instances occur when managers of the brand need to interact with the media on their own. This happens in public places, during interviews or TV appearances. In such instances, they must know how to handle themselves – training addresses this issue.

It also helps eliminate the likelihood of creating another issue for PR experts to handle. For instance, an accused brand manager may become angry and strike a reporter, or say words in anger which are quickly taken out of context. When trained and properly prepared for these high-tension situations, people handle themselves better.

Plans Give Peace of Mind

In spite of the benefits of training, nothing replaces an actual crisis management and communications plan. Creating a plan before a bad incident happens helps to give executives peace of mind. This may include templates for press releases, an appointed spokesperson, emergency contacts for PR personnel, and step-by-step instructions detailing how to proceed.

PR experts can then help the company tailor a suitable plan for particular situations. After the crisis has passed, PR specialists should work with the brand managers tweaking the plan based on what was learned about how the media reacts to that brand, and what worked versus what did not.

Don’t wait until catastrophe hits to have a solid plan of action, as the 24/7 news cycle doesn’t wait for you.

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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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