In this paper I will express my opinion regarding behavior of the PR manager in crisis situation, explain when proactive crisis management plan is necessary and when reactive, as well as role of PR in crisis situation. I will investigate in possible feedback mechanisms that could be effective in the crisis situation and provide some examples what PR manager should definitely not do in managing crisis in the company.
I have completed the simulation “Managing a Crisis Using PR”. Speaking about proactive crisis management plan, I must say that there should be such plan for emergency cases in all companies that care about their public relations and reputation. Such plan should include Communications plan, where all possible situations will be described with correspondent budget, so that in case of crisis, when each minute is very important, all forces be concentrated upon accomplishing necessary tasks and not for planning.
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Depending on the profile of the company, PR manager can choose from different options. Proper choice of PR tools is also very important for successful plan implementation. In case with Greenergy, the most important task was developing Crisis Management and Communication Plan and find optimal tools, so that in case of crisis it was possible to solve problems quickly with minimal damage for company’s financial resources and reputation, such as Environmental Conservation Activities, Fact-Finding Team and Crisis Communication Process. Research team is also very important for the company that wants to be aware of changing attitudes of people in regard to it and its production, as without this kind of information it becomes impossible to find out weak sides of PR activities and effectively eliminate them. Media Relations Plan is vital for establishing relations with media for any cases that would be interesting and useful for public to know (new products, etc.)
Reactive crisis management is obviously utilized when the situation that can lead to crises had already happened. PR plays dominant role in reactive crisis management, as of how fast and adequately would the company present their situation, depends not only its reputation, but also in some cases financial state. In case with Greenergy, the company should be partly honest when communicating the message, as from one side it will show the public that the company controls the problem and will maintain its credibility for admitting the accident, and from the other side immediate, but partly honest response will provide the opportunity to collect more information and to get ready for further communication. Senior management should be first to know about the crisis situation happened, as it predominantly decide what strategy to implement. Then, informing of the legal department will ensure the communication process within legal framework. Communicating employees will maintain their morale. Conference with employees will be the most effective tool to use, as it will demonstrate them that management is anxious and caring about then, as well as direct contact will add them confidence in the future. Speaking about who should be informed from external environment, media must be for sure the first to know, as in crisis situation should think about earning credibility and showing that there is nothing to hide and that it is open with public. Informing relevant government and regulatory agencies is not even necessary, but mandatory, and will also increase company’s credibility and show proactive management nature. As the tools can be chosen the conference and establishing toll-free number, as it can be set up very quickly, raises credibility an increases company’s management intention to respond quickly and release information to those who are interested.
The best feed back mechanism that can be developed in the crisis situation is setting a hotline and developing systems for polls and surveys, as the company should be aware of what the stakeholders think of the situation and shape the crisis management strategy to achieve better results. There could also be organized a press-conference with open hotline so that anyone could ask any question or express personal opinion regarding the situation, but received information can appear not to be relevant enough for further usage.
The things that PR professional should not do during managing crisis situation first include the fact that the company should not leave the situation occurred without comments or try to suppress the accident, as it significantly decreases credibility and spoils company’s reputation. Then PR manager should not use any tools that require a lot of time to implement, such as setting a hotline with employees or making a conference with all of them. E-mail in emergency case will be mostly appropriate. Organizing press conferences with media can not appear to be the best choice for emergency crisis situations, as their organizations takes a lot of time.
In case when the crisis situation occurs inside the company, CEO should not neglect the opportunity to speak directly to the employees otherwise they can think that management feels uncomfortable and unsure about the situation and that can develop employees mistrust. In the crisis situation inside an organization management should not just issue some memos about facts and opinions about the accident, as this will be not motivating for employees and present the image of the company, as quite indifferent. And of course absence of any reaction of company’s management is absolutely intolerable, as providing no information to stakeholders can provoke media releases that can hurt significantly the image of the company.
In the conclusion I would like to summarize key points of my paper. First, good PR manager is proactive PR manager that doesn’t wait for the crisis to do crisis management planning and choosing proper tools for its implementation. PR professional tries to find best alternatives that would be most effective and correspond to the provided budget. When the crisis happens, and it was not possible to foresee it, PR professional chooses less time-consuming strategies and tools and reacts quickly to all possible situations for the maximum benefit of the company to show the public that crisis situation are under control and the company is open to share information about it.—————————————————————————–
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