The Role of PR in Crisis Management

By on March 15, 2017
Crisis Management

Recent Crisis case 1: Five people lost their lives and three were critically injured in a fire in a building in Raj Nagar in Ghaziabad. The incident took place at IndiaMART office, located on the second floor. The fire resulted from a blast in the air conditioner, caused by short circuit. Offices on the second and third floor of prime associate building was completely destroyed.

Recent Crisis case 2: In another incidenta person calling himself Rahul called a woman on her mobile phone and said he is calling from Paytm headquarters, Noida. He said he required her OTP which had been sent on her mobile phone to change her PIN (Personal Identification Number) due to some issue in her account.Minutes after she told him her OTP, Rs 18,000 was withdrawn from her Paytm wallet. When she called on the number from which she received the call, it was going unreachable.

There are myriad number of such crisis situations corporates deal with on a daily basis and PR Agencies plays a very significant role in mitigating such crisis situation. Like the aforementioned IndiaMART and Paytm crisis, such situations can give a big hit to a brand’s corporate image and reputation. Almost all the leading PR agencies in India have a specialized crisis communications cells which springs into action every time such crisis occurs that put a question mark on a company’s reputation and makes people loose trust on the brand. Such scenarios, if not managed well and in the right time can wreak havoc on a brand’s equity in the market and amongst its audience. Both these crisis situations were handled by a top PR agency in Delhi. Another is the Nestle Maggi fiasco that happened, not very long ago.

PR agencies, once intimidated, approaches such crisis situations in various ways: 

  • Suggests the right and strategic approach to be taken
  • Identifies the key audience to be communicated with
  • Draft holding statements, questions and answers, and briefing documents
  • Draft the message and decide on the medium

The PR departments usually gets involved at three different stages:

  • Decide and formulate communication before an incident becomes public
  • Handling press, key influencers and media once the incident becomes public – PR roles out the communication plan into action
  • Communicate about the corrective measures that are being taken and giving the assurance that such incidents won’t ever happen again
  • Keeping the communication channel open and communicate regularly with your target group
  • Try to minimize the impact of the crisis as much as possible – both for the brand as well as for the unfortunate people involved – the victims

The earlier a PR department is informed about a crisis, the more prepared they will be to handle it in front of the media. Keep the PR agency informed at all costs:

  • Inform the PR department or the external agency as quickly as possible should you assume a crisis situation. Most PR agencies has a crisis communication plan in place.
  • Alert the PR agency if you come across something that you think might mar the organizational reputation.
  • Also, certainly with internal communication, if you feel that messages are not being conveyed as effectively as possible, and the responsibility lies with the PR agency then closer working may be helpful.

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