What should you do when a major crisis erupts? How can you counter the wave of negative public opinions that emerge, especially online?
Well, it really depends on the circumstances. As the saying goes, having the best hammer doesn’t mean that every problem is a nail. Similarly, managing communication crises requires you to first diagnose the cause and effect of the issue before prescribing the right public relations strategy.
(image courtesy of Muslim cartoonist Khalil Bendib)
Like fire, media publicity is a good servant but a bad master.
Managed well, it focuses the glaring spotlight on neglected issues which warrant a global audience. However, extensive media and social media coverage may also lead to unwarranted consequences.
Let us examine a recent tragic news event to see how this unfolds. One that is close to everybody’s hearts.
The Marketer Scientist is a new superhero (courtesy of Search Engine Land)
In the world of marketing, there are two schools of thought.
The first – and more common – group believes that marketing belongs to the rarefied world of advertising professionals, PR experts, and market research wizards. Every step is finely calibrated, like strokes to a canvas made by a master.
Courtesy of Keith Maguire
As a public relations professional who deal with the media on a regular basis, I am often faced with situations which require a judgement call. These may take the form of a series of deeply probing questions by journalists who are determined to weed out the grains of dirt, or to develop a more sensational story from an otherwise run-of-the-mill piece.
While I believe in telling the truth, I am also aware that certain facts presented in the wrong context may end up leaving a false impression. The worst thing that can happen is to end up losing control of an unfolding story, and to be perceived as being uncooperative and unwilling to provide information to a hungry media circus.
The recent spate of cataclysmic events happening around our region is simply awful. To date, more than 50,000 people in the Sichuan area are either dead, missing or buried, and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar has left more than two million homeless and tens of thousands dead. As we flip the papers, page after page describes the sad story of human tragedy caused by these natural/ manmade (some say that the cyclone is due to global warming) catastrophes.
From what I understand, both incidents are still unfolding. In other words, they will continue to dominate media spaces for quite some time.
Source of image
I got tipped off to write about this following Priscilla Tan’s expose on what goes on behind the doors of PR agencies and their clients. Many of the situations which she described – expecting page one news, wanting to be called “the next big thing”, and agency bosses “kow towing” to clients – are not unique indeed.