In this business we do a lot of Crisis Management along with a partner in the public relations business. In most cases if the crap really hits the fan, you need a PR Firm that specializes in crisis management and a reputation company like ours who can handle the heavy lifting online. There are several firms out there that specialize in crisis management, but not too many package what we do. This is not a pitch, but a suggestion that if you have gotten a lot of bad press with the crisis, you will be best served by making sure that the firm you hire has both skill sets within their resources.
The Public Relations Side
The Public Relations side begins immediately putting together an action plan of trying to bury the garbage with good news about the firm or you if it’s personal. Our side begins buying EMDs (exact match domains) to start throwing up some WordPress blogs with the search terms in them that are being searched for your name or company. it’s really an art form if it’s done right and it’s a constant communication between the PR firm and the reputation marketing or management firm. In many cases, we try to give the clients several scenarios and we often let them listen to our “sausage making” as we hold some lively debates as to what the next steps should be. heretofore, all of our clients have loved to sit back and witness these discussions.
I think when we get really opinionated and heated on our conference calls, our clients seem to love it because it’s the first time they have had a little levity since their crisis, but it’s really not designed for that reason. We just like to let the client make the final decision because they are the ones that may be looking at jail time or getting fired or being destroyed online. We run the gambit from Tech Companies, to National Associations to Fortune 500 companies to small entrepreneurs who have made a mistake while trying to survive in a competitive marketplace.
The nice thing about our crisis management team is that Scott Sobel of Mac Strategies has over forty years experience and degrees in media communication and public relations. He was a reporter for a major television station in Denver for years and really has a lovely temperament for this kind of work. I think to be good at this, you need a mix of experience, empathy and courage. If you don’t have empathy for your client, you shouldn’t be in this business. I remember a line from my grandmother when I was young when she would see someone less fortunate than we were. They may have been handicapped, or sick or living on the street. I always remember her saying: “There but for the grace of God, go I”. If you don’t think you are one Scotch, one employees misstep or one mistake away from the client you are serving, then you are destined to someday being on the other end of the phone call.
Crisis Management Work
You must have the courage to tell your client the truth about what you see happening because it is never more important to managing a client’s expectation than in crisis management work. The next thing you need to prepare for is to be their confidant and very shortly; their psychiatrist. We have to ask these folks the tough questions and you have to do it in the worse times, but if you don’t have the fortitude to care enough to ask, then this business isn’t for you. The nice thing for us with this kind of work is that in many cases, you become long time friends. After the smoke has cleared, if you did your job, you will remain friendly for years to come and that isn’t bad for meeting someone in the worst circumstances of their lives.