PR Crisis Management

Company PR Crisis Management

Company PR Crisis Management

Your startup gets its very own article in ValleyWag (now defunct) or even worse Mr. Cranky’s rag…. what do you do? Your company needs PR Crisis Management!

The first thing to do is to gather trusted advisors that have experience responding to bad press. Find people whose judgment you trust, and/or people who are not emotionally attached to your firm. Get a PR expert, a lawyer, a subject matter expert, and/or an outside trusted advisor.

Why? Because you’re too close to the issue. Someone just told the world you have an ugly baby and you want to run him down in your car. Well, it is my personal opinion that there might be a more effective media relations strategy than murder. Now a lot of folks will say, Glen, you’re just advocating for a peaceful, non-violent solution because Mr. Cranky is a most-likely “accidental” hit-and-run candidate.

I say, well that may be true but there’s more to this story than self-interest. First, I don’t have enough readers to justify a murder rap. Second, I live in Virginia where we regularly exercise the death penalty to murderers. ValleyWag, on the other hand, has many more readers and there’s no death penalty in New York where they’re headquartered. Third, people aren’t going to remember the offending article tomorrow until you get arrested for murder which just makes your problem worse.

Founders, CEOs, people who own and run businesses tend to take criticism of their companies more personal than criticism of themselves. Parents can understand this. You can say anything you want about me but leave my kids out of this. So when the article appears, a) take a deep breath, b) gather advisors, c) develop a plan and d) stay on plan. In the absence of a planning committee, here’s a generic PR crisis management plan:

  1. Don’t respond – your response to blog comments or social media will keep the thing alive.  The average bad press article gets very little notice and by responding you’re giving it more legs to get discovered. You’re going to remember this event forever. The rest of us already forgot about it when we linked to the cat drinking from the toilet video.
  2. If you have to respond follow these guidelines:
    1. Don’t be defensive and whiny.
    2. Don’t try and obfuscate the issue by bringing other extraneous data, personalities or issues to the forefront. Don’t attack the attacker. No What-About-Ism aloud.
    3. Do directly address each issue and do take responsibility for any failures. Supply facts and evidence.
    4. Do get supporters, employees, customers, advisors, parole officers to respond on your behalf.
    5. Do get someone to hold your car keys to avoid temptation and save a life… especially mine.
    6. Don’t start spewing offensive foul-mouthed tweets that only make you look foolish and childish. Resist the urge! Take a deep breath and relax… tomorrow is another day!
  3. Don’t Threaten To Sue When You Don’t Have A Leg To Stand On – Don’t send someone a cease and desist letter like those Dumb Asses at Trustify!!!! Right, Danny Boice and Jen Mellon? It only makes the problem worse (See how that worked for them).

And that’s how to handle PR Crisis Management… or not to