PR Nightmares: Handle Them Quick & Dirty

While this post has been inspired by Blippy most firms, at some point, are going to face a lashing from the media. It’s important to note that the most covered PR Nightmares are not necessarily the worst. Instead, I see the biggest disasters being when the message is in heavy rotation to your target publics; AND stops them from buying. Three local news articles can certainly be far worse and damaging than ten national articles.

So, you are getting slammed? Before you do anything calm yourself down, grab a pen, a piece of paper and jot down the following:

  • Overview: What has just happened? In the case of Blippy, it was accused that users credit card numbers were publically available on Google. There was a widespread reporting of this on influential technology news websites.

  • Who are your Target Publics: It is important to define your separate audience. Be sure to define between those who are just reading negative coverage and those who are not buying because of it. Rank them by importance. In the case of Blippy there may be users who had their card exposed, normal users, readers of news site X, readers of news site X who did not join, users who closed their accounts.

  • What channels are they using? Where is the PR disaster happening? Online? In a newspaper (which ones)? Twitter? It is important to define this for each target public!

  • Key Message: If you can communicate just one thing to each public, what? In the case of Blippy members it was ensuring that the security holes were being plugged.

  • Strategies & Tactics: Strategies broadly define how you intend to fix the problem and tactics are how you enact this (hint: use the publics, channels and messages you have already come up with). Try to cover every target public here. For example, Strategy: Ensure consumers that Blippy is tight on security , Tactics: Write a blog easing security concerns, contact effected users, etc.

Hopefully sitting back for five minutes will give you a sense of clarity, calm and a sense of how to move forward. It may sound simple but when we get angry or emotional it’s not uncommon to say silly things that we regret / that hurt you and your business in the long run.