Crisis Management Public Relations

In what are probably the latest developments in huge declining reputation trends, we read of the up-for-sale of “Blackwater Xe”, the private security firm.  Combine that with the increasing calls on the CEO of BP Energy to step down as a price for the oily mess. These result in a price tag for bad publicity, damaged reputation, and lack of control over brand positioning.

Even the most perfect cross-industry brands and fans of Corporate Social Responsibility companies are not immune.  Patriotic, job generating and substantially-contributing companies may find themselves facing a public fiasco without proper prior warning. It can even apply to “country-brands” like Israel who stand up for many things, but cannot sufficiently channel the limelight towards those advantages when crisis knocks on their doors.

Sometimes you feel you are operating in an environment where you cannot afford to disclose operational secrets, structures, financials or policies. But it’s vital to find focused messages on what you COULD reveal, clarify on, and interact with the public asking for input too.

Ed Murrow, CBS journalist and one of the early directors of the United States Information Agency during the Kennedy years and facing the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961 said: “if they want me in the crash landings, I better damn be in on the take-offs”.

Here are 7 reasons and ideas to shift your PR from crisis clean-ups to a management function TODAY:

Having a PR rep in a meeting on policy initiatives can be leveraged for brand building and positioning, both pre-emptatively and for positive impact.

Good reputation management begins early on. Not when damaged reputation requires fixing. Reputation is identified and managed well during decision making processes

Control. Early PR gets the messages YOU want to disseminate to your publics in advance so you won’t have to deal with rumors and blog-standard sources which take all your Google-results space during a crisis.

The key to every PR story a.k.a “the angle” should be pulled from management functions which PR professionals are ear-sensitive to find and pick up

Attending management decision making processes can help create plan B’s and C’s and placed in a drawer for stormy days.

Interaction with key figures on a board can generate new ideas and key messages from various company divisions’ execs used as extra PR “bonus points” in building clarity, integrity and reputation for target audiences. Who knows where your next positive news item placement will come from ?

Most important: realizing Public Relations is a two-street which can be utilized to also receive information from your key publics via PR research on their preferences, tendencies and views of your brand. This can imply on decision making in the boardroom and can prevent the next bad turn by the person on the wheel

Avoid the next bad decision snow ball. You don’t want to find yourself in blackwater mud.


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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.