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Five Steps for Managing a PR Crisis

April 3, 2012  
It's unlikely that your brand will ever face a public relations catastrophe on the scale of British Petroleum, Bank of America, or Enron. But there's a chance you'll encounter crisis on a smaller scale. And hindsight allows you to study their errors then decide what you'd do differently. Anita Williams Weinberg, writing at MarketingProfs, says, "The answers ... likely all boil down to a few simple, common-sense steps."

Prioritize an immediate remedy. Before anything else, you must create a solution and communicate its precise details. "Now is the time to really put your customers first—even though your gut instincts might tell you to focus elsewhere," she notes.

Own the error. Get ahead of the story by taking immediate responsibility. It's the right thing to do, and it gives you greater control of the media narrative. An unflinching diagnosis of the problem will also earn customer trust.

Apologize, apologize, apologize. In Weinberg's experience, this doesn't happen enough. "Get out there and give an honest apology—across as many media outlets as possible," she says. And after you apologize, patiently accept the angry feedback you will likely receive.

Make sure it doesn't happen again. A temporary fix may appease customers in the short term, but you need to make it permanent if you plan to keep their business.

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