Why is ‘correct’ communication important in PR?
In the world of public relations communication is everything. Our entire job as a practitioner revolves around written and verbal communication. The communication that we are responsible for executing and tailoring is the voice of the people or organization that we are representing. Everything that we say and do makes a statement to our publics. Our public is then left to take the message that we convey to them and judge it for themselves.
We have to be very careful as public relations practitioners because anything that we say or do is analyzed and ultimately will decide how our public views us. Sometimes these messages we create are received with open arms and sometimes they create public relations issues. When communication is misunderstood by the public or media we are faced with issues that can turn into a crisis. This is why knowing how to communicate properly is crucial in the world of public relations so that you can avoid negative consequences of poor messaging .
The dreaded ‘no comment’
It doesn’t happen very often, but you need to be prepared as a practitioner for the rare occasion when avoiding communication may occur. This is when our expertise is really taken for a test drive into a mine field. There may come a time in your career when the organization you are working for has information that is restricted. This may happen in an incident when you may have to be more careful with what is disclosed to the public because of legal or competitive reasons. A “no comment” is a response that will certainly generate speculation and get the gossip flowing about your company. By saying nothing implies to the public that you have something to hide or need to keep buried. So, how do you deal with a situation that puts you as a practitioner in this dreaded situation?
Step-by-step directions for dealing with Crisis Communications:
- Know your facts. Know your organization and the situation they are in inside and out.This will help you to avoid any misleading or fake information from being leaked or misinterpreted when communicating with the public. Integrity is everything in public relations. You need to know exactly what has happened and what went wrong.
- Know your messaging and have a message strategy. Sit down with your organization or client and hammer out messaging that can be given to the media. This will help you to avoid having to ‘stay quiet’. This allows you to keep open communication with the public.
- Stay on point. Once you have given your answer do not deviate from your planned messaging strategy. Stick to your response and don’t get backed into a corner by losing track of your messaging.
By following these steps it will help you to be prepared for public appearances. It will allow you to avoid the ‘no comment’. Remember, in the world of public relations the ‘no comment’ response is not a choice. The career you are working in is about communicating not saying nothing.
More tips on how to deal with Crisis Communications
Top 5 crucial tips in a crisis:
Now you know the basics of dealing with communication when you find yourself in a crisis scenario. The above step-by-step plan is only a guideline to help you to maneuver through a crisis scenario. Below are some more pertinent tips to help you when dealing with a crisis.
- Never lie to the media. As tempted as you may be lying is not an option unless you want to lose all credibility for yourself as a practitioner and your client.
- Don’t allow yourself to be put in a cat and mouse scenario. If the media contact you ensure that you get all their contact information and give them a set time of when you will get back to them. The time frame should never be more then 30 minutes. This gives you some time to get your key points straight.
- Always keep a list of reporters you have spoken with and make sure that you have any quotes that were given on file. By doing this you help to eliminate any room for error on the part of the media.
- If you are caught in a legal matter do not say nothing, but let them know that you are involved in an ongoing investigation and that you can not discuss certain details until the matter is dealt with.
- Keep track of the media that you deal with even when in a crisis. You never know when this could be a beneficial contact for the future when you need press coverage for a more positive matter. The relationship between PR and the media is an important one.
Crisis Communication Management
Crisis communication management is extremely important in the public relations field so it is important to familiarize yourself with these tips and steps. Take a look at the video below that takes you through a step-by-step crisis management plan. The video takes you through an in-depth look at assessing your organizations crisis situation.
You may think that you will never face a situation where you will need these skills and maybe you won’t, but you need to always be prepared for anything in the world of public relations. Everyday is different and everyday you will have different obstacles thrown at you. The day you come face to face with a crisis you will be glad that you took the time to understand the importance of one and how to deal with it head on. Good luck.