Public Relations is an area of communications that has to do with establishing a cordial relationship between an organization and its publics. The publics of an organization are too numerous:these are people who are in one way or the other affected by the decisions, actions and the general activities of an organization.
The publics of an organization includes the employees, first of all, the host community, their clients,investors, the mass media, the government (depending on the size of the organization) etc. Therefore whatever decision an organization takes, it takes the interest of these parties into account. This Public relations strategic pattern of operation is heavily deployed in the time of crisis.
Talking about crisis, a number of ideas, strategies, moves, opinions etc. begins to erupt when an organization of high reputation begin to experience it. Even the mass media at that point seeks to find a case that will make the day. Now thatís exactly when the place of a Public Relations Consultant becomes paramount.
So when can a case be called a PR crisis?
1. When a number of groups who have stakes in that organization are involved.
2. When the image of the organization is involved
3. When the organization must protect the interest of its stakeholders.
Tips for managing PR crisis
Find out the cause of the crisis:
Getting handy the immediate cause of the crisis is very helpful in crisis management. The fact is, before a case turns to a crisis, it must have been an undermined issue that has begged for attention over time. The inability of an organization to handle the issue as at when necessary causes the issue to escalate to a crisis.
The PR person must go into research to enquire into the cause of the crisis. He could interview the parties involved particularly the aggrieved party. This establishes a level of understanding, just like a first aide would do to an accident victim.
Are there pre-crisis management plan?
It is recommended that every organization should train its employees on crisis management. In a case of fire outbreak for instance, everyone should be trained on how to use fire extinguisher, how to turn on and off switches etc. They should also to be given orientation about how and when to give out information. In some organization, only the CEO or the Public relations consultant is permitted to speak in times of crisis. These are pre-crisis management plans an organization could make.
Information management is a peculiar aspect of crisis management. Whatever information an organization, its management or staff gives out, particularly to the media can make or mar the reputation of the organization. Even the gate-man is not an exception in this.
Get Updated information:
The one and only way of getting an updated version of information is through research. To be able to manage a PR crisis strategically, you should have studied how some other organization handled a similar case. This will help you understand what strategies they deployed and how impactful it was to the organization.
The Boss must be ready to act
In managing crisis, the Boss of the organization must be ready to implement the instructions or the guidelines of the PR consultant. Now watch this, staff members look up to the boss; they may not be too in a hurry to listen to a man who just resumed a function just because the organization is facing some challenges. Therefore, the Boss must get the ideas working by inciting his employees to work, following the instruction of the PR consultant.
In conclusion, crisis management is an iconic edge for Public Relations. To an organization, it is a two edged sword.