The Basics of Crisis Communication
- Asses your weaknesses and vulnerabilities: Brainstorm all the of the potential crisis situations your organization could potentially face, from legal issues to recalls to natural disasters. Keep in mind that the internet and increasing social media usage connects consumers with the media more than ever before, so be prepared for a customer complaint to become a crisis situation: as an example, see this CBS 5 investigation — and how Meyers handled the response.
Even press releases put out by your organization could develop into a crisis. Meyers’ advice is to always read over releases before you put them out and think “How could this blow up?”
- Always have a plan: Have a crisis team. Establish who is allowed to talk the media. Know who the experts are in your organization and media train them. In other words, make sure they understand how to drive the content of an interview and stick to your organization’s messaging, even when fielding tough questions from reporters.
- Hold to your word: It’s important to maintain your credibility during a crisis, so don’t back yourself into a wall by making commitments you can’t follow through with.
- Technology is your friend: the most successful PR practitioners make the best use of technology and social media. So stay up-to-date.
- Set yourself apart: Meyers recommends getting video, editing, and even on-camera experience to help you stand out against other applicants. Meyers regularly hosts fundraising segments on KAET/Channel 8.
- Remember that there is no set path in or out of the PR field. Realize that you may leave PR for a while and then come back… Or not. Just keep an open mind and don’t dismiss opportunities just because they don’t sound like something that’s made for your degree.
Meyers has national-level crisis communications experience relating to hot-button immigration issues, and he currently works on major market clients from coast-to-coast in the U.S. Prior to Mindspace, he was Director of Marketing & Public Relations at Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, a $3 billion financial institution. He has also worked as Director of Marketing Communications at the Heard Museum and Senior Editor Creative Services at The Arizona Republic, azcentral.com & 12News.
Before transitioning to public relations, Meyers spent a decade in the radio and records industry as an advertising production director and on-air personality in major markets. Follow him on Twitter @Meyers_PR