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It’s Handled: 3 Foolproof Steps to Manage Any PR Crisis

It’s every company’s worst nightmare – your business is in the news, and not for something good. Maybe it’s the departure of a high-profile executive, an accusation of racism, sexism or homophobia or simply a misunderstanding that escalated quickly. The public eye can turn on you in a flash, and it’s important to have a calm, calculated approach to crises.

You don’t need to look too far to see instances where PR crises abound – take Bill Cosby, for example. Virtually overnight, he went from America’s most beloved TV dad to an alleged sexual predator. Public perception is everything. The odds that your business will face a massively publicized international sex scandal are slim, but crisis management skills are essential for problems big and small that can affect you temporarily or even permanently.

Consider a local restaurant that fails a health inspection. Anyone in the restaurant industry knows that something as innocent as leaving an ice scoop in the ice machine can ruin a health inspection score, but when customers hear that their favorite neighborhood breakfast place failed a health inspection, visions of room-temperature meat, rats and mold dance in their heads.

In these situations, it’s important to prepare both reactive and proactive responses. In more detail, a reactive response is what you might use if a reporter calls your restaurant for a comment on your less-than-perfect health inspection score. At this point, you should decide the reach of the news – you may want to prepare a reactive statement for servers, cashiers and other hourly employees who might face abrupt questions from customers and the media. The executive team should also have a reactive response at the ready. A proactive response to a crisis is also essential to prepare, but may not be necessary to use. You might use a proactive response if you’re facing a barrage of media inquiries – both proactive and reactive responses give you the opportunity to control the story and the message.

Here are three guidelines to crafting a crisis statement worth sharing.

Show Sympathy

Let your customers know that you understand their frustration and disappointment. Put yourself in their shoes – they want to feel heard.

“We sympathize with our customers who have expressed concern. We understand the special role that our restaurant has in the lives of our valued guests.“

Assure Change

Share with customers that change is in the works, and your company is doing anything and everything in its power to fix the problem.

“As soon as we heard about the issue, we responded immediately. We have several procedures and policies in place to ensure that our restaurant meets and exceeds inspection standards, as well as the expectations of our guests.”

Reinforce Values

Your customers should know that your company values remain the same – you’re still committed to providing excellent service, and an isolated incident does not compromise that.

“We are making certain that the restaurant remains a warm, welcoming and safe environment for families, community organizations and visitors. We thank you for many years of loyalty.”

At All Points Public Relations, we utilize this three-step process on our franchising industry clients large and small, from restaurants and retail operations to health and fitness studios, tech companies and everyone in between. Your reputation is everything – especially in franchising, where individual locations are a reflection of the parent company. Protect yourself by thinking ahead.

If you’re on the lookout for help preventing future crises, connect with us. We’re committed to showing care and consideration for all impacted parties while protecting the image of our valued clients. For more information about All Points PR’s crisis communication services, visit www.allpointspr.com/services/crisis-communications.

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