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By F+A Staff

Lessons from the Trenches: Five Non-negotiable Crisis Response Steps

Someone calls your company to report a suspected impaired driver driving a company vehicle. There’s a chance the story can get out and your company can be named.

When this happened to one of our clients, we immediately sprang into action with five tried-and-true steps to mitigate the fallout and prepare the company for the potential hit to their reputation.

  1. Research – We saw it when Rolling Stone retracted the UVA rape story – misadvised facts and unsubstantiated research can come back to bite companies and individuals if they aren’t accurate. Before starting the crisis response, gather all of the pertinent background information, no matter how damaging or irrelevant it may seem.
  1. Write – Draft statements for the key audiences and the spokesperson. While the tone may differ – between external audiences and staff, for example – what’s shared needs to be accurate across the board. In this case, the audiences included the caller, the company’s employees and key clients.
  1. Prepare – Run through talking points with the spokesperson and rehearse, if time permits. At a minimum, the spokesperson should be familiar with the talking points and the company’s position.
  1. Distribute – Share the messages internally and externally, and be prepared to respond to questions that arise.
  1. Monitor – Keep an eye on media, both social and traditional, and track sentiment and volume.

 

While crisis response is a flurry of activity in the beginning, it doesn’t stop when the initial swell of attention dies down. In the Internet age, it’s near impossible to put issues to bed for good. Keep a monitoring strategy in place so you’ll know immediately if the issue resurfaces.

By F+A Staff

Why organizations need to stop thinking about crisis as a static process

Organizations of any size – law firms included – need to change their thinking from “If something bad happens, we will address it then,” to “Issues that have the potential to damage our brand will happen, and we better think about it now.” Every organization – at every point in time – is either in, or should be in one of the following four circular conditions:

  • Preparing – You are actively preparing for the next issue, making sure your team is equipped for what’s coming. Is your current senior leadership media trained? Are your social media tools tuned to listen for early warnings of things to come? Do you have a strategy in place to make decisions when the immediacy of a crisis short-circuits your typical decision-making approach?  Do you have a plan to make sure you know how to reach key people even on holidays?
  • Addressing – If you’ve done your homework and your preparation is set, you or your client will be able to execute your plan when a crisis hits. Certainly, even the most well-honed plan won’t make the issues go away. You will, though, be able to weather the crisis better, avoiding the rudderless feeling that most experience.
  • Monitoring – Once you’ve addressed the crisis, follow news stories, blog posts and social media to see how outlets report the issue. In the social media sphere, a layperson’s comment can be just as impactful as a high-profile reporter’s. As you witness the response, modulate your messages based on the media and public response.
  • Revising – Assess the outcome and re-calibrate your strategy for the next crisis. How clearly did your spokespeople articulate key messages? Did you reach your target audience? What hurdles did your crisis team encounter? With each answer, you’ll gain a more comprehensive understanding of the media landscape and public perception, and use this advantage to refine your response strategy.

The cycle is recurrent and the most prepared lawyers recognize the cyclical nature of crisis communication.

 

By F+A Staff

Dial-up Your Phone Interview Savvy

The following five tips for a fruitful phone interview will quell anxiety and set you up for success:

  • Location is key. Conduct the interview from a location other than the office, where it’s easy to get distracted by emails, phone calls and visitors.
  • Have a one-sheet of key messages available to reference during the interview – just be sure not to read them verbatim to the reporter, which can sound overly rehearsed and insincere.
  • Be comfortable. Many people find it more comfortable to stand during a phone interview, which also projects more authority in their voice.
  • Act as if the reporter is in the same room. Smile when appropriate. The warmth from a smile is heard by the reporter and, therefore, the audience. Gesturing also add emphasis, which can help draw attention to key points.
  • Listen for non-verbal clues. With phone interviews, it’s often possible to hear the sound of the reporter typing. An increase in typing indicates that the reporter is intrigued. Take that as a chance to slow down and re-emphasize your key messages.

While phone interviews may seem less intimidating because there is no visual component, they can actually be more challenging because it is more difficult to convey personality and create visuals in the reader’s mind. With these tips in mind, you can pave a pathway to achieving your ultimate goal – an authentic portrayal of your key messages that reach your target audience.

By F+A Staff

Lessons from the Trenches: Crisis Management Behind the Scenes

Our years of experience in managing crises for clients have taught us that one thing’s for certain – it’s not a question of if, but when.

Every PR pro has their own methods for dealing with crises, and we fine-tune ours following each crisis we encounter. While every client crisis requires a tailored response, these best practices will help you keep your cool during any crisis:

  • Have a plan in place before the crisis hits. It may seem obvious, but we’ve encountered countless companies who had no semblance of one. While it’s impossible to predict exact scenarios, audits of potential threats and company weaknesses will help you to prepare for the worst and develop a plan to execute an adept and swift response.
  • Identity a single spokesperson and ensure they’re media-trained. When too many people become involved in the public-facing response to a crisis, the company’s message can become convoluted.
  • Coordinate messaging across the company. While it’s best to designate one employee as spokesperson, be prepared for the media or stakeholders to approach others within the company. Ensure that everyone’s armed with a response, even if it’s simply, “our CEO is better equipped to answer your questions.”
  • Make a commitment to transparency and hold your company accountable for its actions. Trying to skirt responsibility or cover up the truth instead of making sincere reforms will continue to harm a company’s reputation in the long-term.

Whether or not you’re managing your first big crisis, or your hundredth, these tips are universally applicable and will help you to mitigate the immense pressure that tends to descend during crisis.

By F+A Staff

Firmani + Associates Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Today we’re announcing our 20th anniversary! Founded on April Fools’ Day by Mark Firmani in 1994, Firmani + Associates has grown into a mid-size agency with national reach, known for its award-winning campaigns and marketing strategies.
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Lessons from the Trenches: Five Non-negotiable Crisis Response Steps
Why organizations need to stop thinking about crisis as a static process
Dial-up Your Phone Interview Savvy
Firmani + Associates Celebrates 20th Anniversary