How many stories have you heard about a brand that was once adored and loved by the public but are now just mere memories of what it used to be? Can you recall any businesses with damaged reputations due to a lack of proper planning or horrible communication? If not, let me assure you that brands exist, companies exist, with bad or no public relations plans in place.
I know you’ve heard the saying by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Well, Benjamin was right! You’re business will fail if you just go into it without some plan of action.
After reading, you should get a good understanding of why public relations is important not only to large companies but also to small companies and individuals who strive to keep a positive image for their brands. Every business needs public relations. You will also learn what it takes to prevent a crisis from incurring.
What is public relations? Public relations is the management of one’s brand image and reputation. The relationship between a company and the public. In accordance with the Public Relations Society of America, it encompasses a few things:
- Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact, good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization.
- Counseling management at all levels in the organization with regard to policy decisions, courses of action and communication, taking into account their public ramifications and the organization’s social or citizenship responsibilities.
- Researching, conducting and evaluating, on a continuing basis, programs of action and communication to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to the success of an organization’s aims. These may include marketing; financial; fund-raising; employee, community or government relations; and other programs.
- Planning and implementing the organization’s efforts to influence or change public policy. Setting objectives, planning, budgeting, recruiting and training staff, developing facilities…
Who do PR plans effect? Public relations effects a companies stakeholders: suppliers, customers, employees and investors. So, it is a pretty important factor in contributing to an organization’s success.
Why is it important? Well, in an age where social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter serve as platforms for expressing one’s opinion, stakeholders have an incredible amount of power in that they can influence how others see your organization. If a stakeholder is dissatisfied about a product or service your company is providing, he or she is within rights to complain all they want to. Depending on how influential that person is, it can mean the difference between earning business or losing several followers and supporters, in turn, negatively affecting your bottom line.
Having a plan in place to handle crisis situations like social media backlash is critical. Without it, you put your organization’s reputation at risk.
How can you prevent a crisis? Create a plan of action BEFORE it happens! Anticipate what your stakeholders may like or dislike about your products or services. In the event someone does complain about your business, craft a response that answers the stakeholder’s questions. Here is a list of things you SHOULD NOT do in responding to a crisis:
- Do not ignore the situation, it will only exacerbate it.
- Do not tell the stakeholder that they are wrong for how they feel. That just isn’t smart. That will surely result in a loss of followers.
- Do not spin the story! Truth and transparency are essential!
- Do not take more than 24 hours to respond. Speed is just as important as truth.
- Do not insult the stakeholder. Show sincerity and commitment to solving the issue.
Every word spoken, tweeted and posted on behalf of your organization is under a “spotlight.” Yes, that means you have to be on your best behavior before, during and after the problems occur. It’s okay to exude personality in your posts, just remain professional. Here is a list of things you absolutely SHOULD DO in a crisis:
- Listen – It’s important to listen to what your audience is saying about you.
- Respond quickly and appropriately
- Again, be professional, responsible and actionable – Own up to your mistake and fix it!
Remember, you want to make your business thrive long-term. Does it really make sense to risk your reputation just to make a point? In my opinion, No. If you think otherwise then you need to reevaluate what your organization’s goals are. Be safe about your business practices and have a PR plan ready.
Hope for the best but plan for the worst!
Thanks for reading! Please comment on what you think about the post! If you just want to discuss some of the things I written about or ask me questions, my line is open!