crisis vs mishap
crisis vs mishap

There is a difference between a brand or company making a simple customer-service blunder, a company having a vast communications crisis. However, the line between can become fine if a situation is not handled correctly. Even the most minor customer service-related errors can turn into massive problems that get media and public attention.

Each needs to be navigated differently 

If an incident is a communications crisis, it will be severe enough to impact more than the markets and public relations departments. Leadership may need to make a public statement and be part of the crisis communication plan. More significant, established brands can often deal with the fallout from a crisis because they have a good reputation, staff, and experts available to them. Emerging or independent, smaller companies can be killed if they don’t appropriately address a pr crisis.

There is not a single example of a PR crisis 

They can happen due to not enough inventory of a highly anticipated product, a poorly-thought-out tweet, or an individual who is part of a brand or company and who’s behaving poorly, either on or off the clock. The internet is forever; degrading, rude, or dismissive responses to customers will live on, even if the company deletes them. And deleting poorly worded statements and social media posts are often seen as a wrong PR decision and can lead to a PR crisis. 

A PR crisis can heavily impact a company if it is a crisis regarding a negative aspect of its industry, not directly to the company itself. PR crises happen frequently. Brands need to be aware of PR crises in their sector and note how other companies and individuals react to and address them.

Always have a plan

A response team dedicated to PR crisis communications or planning before an incident happens have two solid strategies for navigating crises. Responding directly about the issue as quickly as possible, with reliable information and facts, can help soothe the situation. 

Brands need to communicate and navigate PR crises with one voice. Conflicting information is confusing and makes brands look disingenuous to their customer bases. Depending on the type of crisis, specific departments may need additional staff or training on how to speak to the media about an ongoing issue. 

Every employee connected to and will address an issue publicly needs to have a clear idea of their role and how it interacts with the plan. Transparency is critical. Not giving employees all of the facts can lead to mistakes in communication, which can make the problem worse for a brand. 

Companies must not make any promises or statements that they cannot follow through with or keep. The best way to handle a situation that is getting internet scrutiny and attention is to apologize as soon as possible. Follow up with any employees, individuals, and customers directly involved in the incident, and ensure that it will not happen again.

Discover more from Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian’s Professional Profile on Muck Rack
GuideStar Profile for Ronn Torossian Foundation
Ronn Torossian’s Articles on Entrepreneur
Ronn Torossian’s Blog Posts on Times of Israel
Ronn Torossian on SoundCloud

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.