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Preparation and education, the secret to crisis communications


The PRCA’s Crisis Communication Course is a great way to prepare for the unexpected

A little education goes a long way – especially in the fast-paced world of public relations and communications.

As busy professionals managing several accounts, liaising with the press, or even running an entire business, it can be easy to forget the benefits of education and investing in our ongoing professional development.

We all like to think of ourselves as competent and established (which we are, of course), but there are huge benefits to be gained from refreshing existing skills or learning new techniques.

Last year, after several years of working in the media industry, including working as a newspaper journalist and living overseas, I moved to London and gravitated into the world of PR.

A journalism background has proved invaluable as I have transitioned into a PR Account Manager, and, along with the supportive team here at Meantime Communications, the PRCA training courses have been an important part of that transition.

The most recent course I attended was Crisis Communications with Adrian Wheeler FPRCA.

For most PR professionals, dealing with a crisis is inevitable, but it is how we deal with it that will set us apart from our peers and win the respect of a client in need of support and expertise.

Crises can appear in many forms, from financial scandals to incidents endangering public safety, but regardless of the cause the first response is often expected from an organisation within the first ‘golden hour’.

The ‘golden hour’ (a term that stems from treating patients in World War Two) is crucial for putting a plan in place to weather the storm and provides the best chance for your client to survive the crisis.

Preparing a statement is one of the first action points that should take place in that first hour, and any statement should follow the rule of the three ‘R’s’: recognise, regret, resolve.

Recognising the crisis demonstrates strong leadership, expressing regret reflects a strong moral compass, and providing an action plan or next steps on how the issue can be resolved shows integrity.

Finally, take control of the flow of information by establishing a schedule to provide regular updates to the media and the public, which demonstrates a cooperative approach to dealing with the crisis.

The take-home message from the Crisis Communications training was that failure to display strong leadership, morality, or integrity in times of a crisis will reflect negatively on a client’s reputation in the long term, and, as PR and communications professionals, it is our job to ensure that doesn’t happen.

So, to conclude this brief overview of crisis communications, the golden rules to remember are to act within the first hour, remember the three R’s when preparing a statement, and to keep communicating with the media and public.

Being proactive and prepared will not only reduce stress levels during a crisis, it will also earn respect for your client, and in turn, for yourself as a PR professional.

For more information about the PRCA, visit prca.org.uk

 


About the author

Hayley Maguire

Hayley was born the year the first mobile phone call was made. She has a BA in Journalism, an MA in Sports, Culture and Event Management, and has lived in five different countries. In her spare time, Hayley likes to explore new restaurants, practice yoga, and experiment with photography.

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