In a PR crisis, everything gets turned upside down in a hot second. Are you confident you are ready for your next communication’s crisis?  On May 5, Cision sponsored the Conference Board of Canada’s inaugural PR Crisis Forum featuring leading communication professionals like Air Canada’s Director of Communications John Reber speaking about the best tactics for crisis communication.

As much as there is to say about what you should do during a crisis there are just as important don’ts.

Here are the five of the things that no brands needs during a crisis:

1 .Delay tactics.

“Share the information you have and tell people that you are collecting more,” said Reber.

More communication during a crisis is better communication, even if you are reporting to the public with little to no new information.

2. Blame

Another key to success that Reber shared is brands should ever assign blame to a third party. This will only make you look more guilty. His advice: apologise for your brand’s role in an issue as soon as you can and let the media or a court of law sort out who is guilty in the end. The public looks fondly on brands that take responsibility for an issue, which can sometimes mean proactively providing remuneration for those affected by a crisis.

3. Unpreparedness

Heidi Sullivan, Cision Canada’s Managing Director, highlighted that no matter what industry you work in you need to have a plan in place and on that has been tested. It isn’t enough to have gone through the work to build a communications plan if it hasn’t been tested. Run a fire drill.

If someone on your team doesn’t know what to do in a crisis, they can often make the wrong choices and it will get worse. Assign team members to interact with your clients and the public on a variety of channels, build an order of operations and chain of command for escalating cases. Most of all, when someone joins the team, train them!

4. Lawyers

Allan Bonner, President of Bonner Communications Management Inc., said that he has the utmost respect for lawyers during a crisis. However, they shouldn’t be the only voice with weight in a discussion.

“Most often good crisis management is found in doing what is right opposed to what has the least risk,” said Bonner. “The court of public opinion is far more unforgiving than a judge and jury.”

5. Lies

Bonner explained that a lie during a crisis is worse than a crisis itself.  When your brand is on the line, be transparent about what has occurred, be apologetic and most of all be honest.

“Mistakes happen and the public will forgive a brand that does everything it can to prevent that problem from occurring again,” said Bonner.

As the PR pro in the room, it’s your job to be the voice that pushes for transparency and openness, even when executives or lawyers are suggesting otherwise.

After all those don’ts here is a do: read our white paper on using influencers to help your brand respond to crisis on the fly.


About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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