Comstock's magazine 0319 - March 2019 - Page 97

SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL SECTION Inevitably, every company, no matter the size, will face a public relations crisis of some kind. With today’s 24/7 news cy- cle and the ubiquity of social media, news can go viral almost instantly. The public relations industry has had to dramatically evolve in recent years as a result, but the upside is that social media has presented an opportunity for organizations to engage directly with their customers and stake- holders. Therefore, how a company choos- es to respond in a crisis — or otherwise — is ultimately the difference between a much-needed image boost or a damaged brand and isolated customers. “Crises have existed as long as civi- lization itself,” says Dennis Revell, presi- dent and CEO of Sacramento-based Revell Communications. “Thirty years ago, an or- ganization had time to assess the situation, to react and time to repair. Now, because of social media, we operate in an age of in- stant crisis. Social media not only fuels the fire and increases negative conversations across a multitude of platforms, it also in many cases can generate or feed tradition- al media interests.” In this highly connected digital envi- ronment, organizations need to be pre- pared to quickly and efficiently respond to the inevitable. This may sound like a daunt- ing task, but by establishing internal proto- cols, identifying steps to take during a crisis and tactics to implement post-crisis, your organization will be better equipped to weather the storm. To prepare accordingly, here are recommendations from some of Sacramento’s leading public relations pro- fessionals. HOW TO PREPARE Jeff Randle, president and CEO of Randle Communications, believes the best orga- nizations do two things. “First, they build a culture that minimizes the risk associat- ed with personal misconduct, and second, they invest to create a comprehensive business continuity plan that prescribes structure, roles, messaging, communica- tions channels and protocols to address any crisis scenario.” Equally as important is identifying trained spokespeople. Scott Rose, princi- pal and director of public affairs for RSE, says, “Everyone in the organization should understand, regardless of the situation, that all media inquiries are directed to spokespeople. Additionally, developing protocols in the event of a crisis and identi- fying the crisis team and the way in which they can quickly assemble, if need be, is critical.” Benjamin Franklin has been famously attributed as saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Echoing this sen- timent, and speaking to the importance of revisiting your crisis communications and response plan annually is Kassy Per- ry, president and CEO of Perry Commu- nications Group. “Organizations need to conduct regular trainings to ensure that all employees know what to do, where to go and what to say in a crisis.” RECOMMENDED TRAININGS AND PROTOCOLS Organizations that make crisis commu- nications a priority — like proactive mar- keting — will ultimately have sound proto- cols in place. To that end, Randle stresses that organizational discipline is critical in a crisis. “Smart business continuity plans include internal protocols that inform all employees about how to address a crisis situation,” he says. “From there, anticipat- ed scenario trainings across a spectrum of industry-specific issues are invaluable to pressure test the plan and the team to en- sure the program will work when the crisis is real.” Advancements in technology have shifted how news is both disseminated and consumed. Because of this, Revell believes that success is ultimately determined by both preparation and practice. “It’s im- portant to be the first and best source of the news regarding your crisis and to plan for who does what and when,” Revell says. “You also must be quick in your approach when it comes to both traditional and social media.” “SMART BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANS INCLUDE INTERNAL PROTOCOLS THAT INFORM ALL EMPLOYEES ABOUT HOW TO ADDRESS A CRISIS SITUATION.” -Jeff Randle, president and CEO, Randle Communications March 2019 | 99