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PR Nightmares: Why They’re More Common and How to Recover (Should You Blunder)

Every business’s worst nightmare is a PR nightmare. No CEO wants to clean up the messes left behind by rogue employees or an ill-conceived promotional stunt. What’s worse is the press that’s distributed in the event’s wake… How does a business recover today?  

Social Media Extends a PR Nightmare’s Life  

With all that happens online, there’s bound to be a social media mishap or news of something that’s spread and been amplified through social media. It’s easy for a company’s social media manager to post from the wrong account or “mistakenly” get a little too brave. This is how many of today’s PR nightmares occur. 

With the ease of social media to capture a moment and duplicate it, everything shared socially has serious implications. Depending on who sees the content and how it is circulated, 140 characters and the tap of a finger can cost someone their career. Social media creates and feeds many of the PR nightmares that exist today.  

How to Best Handle a PR Nightmare

Every situation will have a different lifespan depending on how the blunder occurred. Did the nightmare take place digitally, or was there a problem with a physical product or a publicity stunt? No matter the issue, be sure your business is prepared. Below are a few of the steps to take if a PR Nightmare affects your business. 

Act Immediately

The biggest mistake any company can make is to wait to take action. No matter what’s going on, make a statement as soon as you’re notified of the problem. If it occurred on social media, remove the incriminating post. By waiting to take action, you’re allowing a larger audience to see what’s been done. An audience will take the opportunity to criticize you for not speaking out, as well as preserve your mistake to a greater degree. 

Have The Right Person Make a Statement 

Who makes the statement is just as important as taking quick action. A statement on behalf of a company should be made by the person at the top. Their acknowledgment is needed and seen as the most sincere in the moment. Appointing someone else to make the statement comes across as cowardly to an audience. 

Own Up to Your Mistake 

One of the worst things you can do is blame the consumer or the public on your mistake. It doesn’t make your business look any better if you try to shift the blame to anyone but yourself (unless, of course, you are telling the truth and your account really was compromised). 

For example, if people are telling you that a product you’ve released has a flaw, don’t deny it. It’s best to say you will be taking investigative measures and let the public know what’s happening. If the product involves injury or is a potential hazard, issue a recall to avoid further damage — don’t wait until the situation has escalated because your company’s pride is too big. Continuing to put lives in danger will make a PR Nightmare absolutely worse and potentially unrecoverable.    

Make Sure Justice is Served 

If the PR nightmare involves specific individual(s) from your company, be sure that justice is served and you no longer have them as a part of the team. You don’t want a few individuals to tarnish the reputation of your brand. Your audience will respect you much more as a business if you separate ties from whoever caused the incident. Make it known that they are no longer affiliated with your company.  

Be Sure to Have a Crisis Plan 

While we hope that your business never has to face something like this, mistakes happen. This is why it’s important for any business to have a plan in case of a PR nightmare. Be sure to develop a written plan your business will have on hand in case of emergency. Take time and create this with members of your team for different scenarios. Remember, the best way to avoid a PR nightmare is to get a number of different perspectives on an idea before its launch, as well as to securely manage your social media pages.  

Remember, there is no surefire way to avoid a PR nightmare — so have a plan in case it happens to you.  



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