When dealing with a crisis, business leaders are in the eye of a storm. They need to be calm while everything swirls around them, because the decisions made today can have implications for years to come.

The coronavirus crisis and its impact on businesses is the one very few ever predicted. Tens of thousands of employers just in our area are trying to determine how to ensure the safety of employees, plan for their economic futures and the consequences of closing their doors temporarily.

For small and large businesses, it is painful.

As public relations professionals, we are weathering the storm with our clients while still managing the changes for ourselves. We have stood by our partners as they navigate the questions and face new information minute by minute.

Our advice to clients during the crisis is to communicate. In this instance, silence is not golden. If you don’t speak up on behalf of your company, someone else will do it for you.

As the dust begins the settle, we are left with a few key takeaways that we hope businesses will take into the future.

Reputation management
You want people to see you as trustworthy. You want them to want to do business with you once the crisis is over. How you manage the crisis can impact your reputation for years to come.

Strategic messaging
People don’t need to know everything, but they should never be lied to about a crisis. A crisis of this magnitude is an “all hands on deck” situation. It does not discriminate between operations, communications or logistics. Your PR firm or communications professionals need a seat at the table to help you make the best decisions for the longevity of your brand.

Experience
Whether we’re reacting to a current crisis or preparing for the inevitable, as a PR firm, we have experience in different industries that helps us tackle the situation you are facing. We draw from that experience to help you make the right decisions for your company now and for its future.

Voice
In a crisis, you don’t have time to think of the best way to say something. You are answering other questions. We can be your voice. A PR professional will craft a statement to help you give employees, stakeholders and the public the information they each need that focuses on calm and reassurance.

Perspective
As your public relations partner, we are in the frying pan, but not in the fire. One of the greatest assets of hiring a PR firm is gaining perspective through crisis management and crisis communications. While we are familiar with you and your business, we work for you. We feel the heat and the pressure, yet we have just enough distance from the flames to see your situations from a broader angle. It allows us to give you clear, direct advice.

Preparation
Once we are through the crisis, we can take a deep breath and help determine how to do it better next time. With experience and hindsight, we will be able to better manage the next crisis and get a plan on paper to help you walk through the next fire.

Author Jennifer Harrington

Jennifer specializes in nonprofit & corporate marketing, public relations and broadcast media management.

More posts by Jennifer Harrington

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