Are You Ready for Your First PR Crisis?

We’re half way through 2021 and there are already countless examples of businesses getting caught with their tail between their legs from inadequate public relations and crisis management. Here are a few: 

  • AstraZeneca announced the release of their COVID-19 vaccine and has encountered multiple PR faux pas’ since its creation, like exaggerating the efficacy of the vaccine.
  • Amazon was exposed for failing to  provide employees with proper PPE and social distancing protocols during the height of the pandemic. 
  • Burger King marketed a ‘vegan’ burger containing ingredients that are unsuitable for vegans to consume.
  • Tropicana released an ad campaign suggesting that mothers use Tropicana to make mimosas. This poorly timed advertisement was received positively by consumers as it poked fun at the increase in drinking problems during pandemic. 
  • McKinsey, a powerful global consulting firm, was caught working with Purdue Pharma after seeking to ‘turbocharge’ the sale of oxytocin, contributing to the long-standing opioid epidemic.

It’s easy enough to shrug off these PR debacles as somebody else’s problem, but let’s step back and get introspective for a moment. What can we learn from these examples? 

If you run a company or a nonprofit, this would be a great time to gather a couple of your trusted lieutenants and spend a lunch hour or two looking ahead and thinking through your own exposure to reputational risks and potential crises.

As you do that, ask yourselves these questions:

  1. Do we have a crisis communications plan? If so, when did we last update it? And when did we last role play it to make sure we all know what to do?
  2. Do we know our media landscape? What news outlets would cover us if we’re suddenly at the center of a crisis (either ours or someone else’s)? Have we established relationships with any reporters and editors?
  3. Are we ready when we have a social media fail, or run into a series of critical online reviews?
  4. Who would be put out front as our spokesperson? Has that individual received media training? Is he or she ready for prime time?
  5. Do we have our act together on messaging? Who are we, what do we stand for, and what narrative do we want out there in the mind of our audiences?
  6. Are we social media savvy? What are people saying about us, if anything, on Twitter and other platforms? Are we proactive and responsive and on message?
  7. Where (and who and what) are our weak links?

Those questions are really just for starters. On The Marc Media has the experience to properly manage all of your crisis communications. Email to schedule a consultation.

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