This year has had its fair share of reputational crises: Pepsi and Kendall Jenner’s disastrous advertisement; United Airlines’ highly publicised removal of a passenger; and Cosmopolitan’s vulgar celebration of cancer weight loss, to name a few. The effect of a hyper-vigilant traditional media, and an engaged public who can live stream and post at the touch of a button, will continue to ring alarm bells for public relations professionals.
It is undeniable that we are operating in a rapidly changing global society, with the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements shining light into the darker sides of civilisation and evoking a desire for action from individuals and large corporations alike. The urge for brands to express a socially desirable message is mounting, and public relations professionals will need to be wary of the fine line between authentic, socially positive messages, and inauthentic fake messages that consumers happily make a mockery of throughout social media. The damage done by shallow messaging can be devastating and difficult to resolve, as was the case with the hollow ‘world-peace’ themed campaign between Pepsi and Kendall Jenner.
Consumers are now bypassing traditional complaints sections to take their concerns immediately into the public via social media. From there, they go viral amongst different demographics and the communication team must work hard to rein in the mounting outrage.
This perfect breeding ground for reputational damage makes crisis management skills a necessity.
The three most important factors an organisation considers when hiring a crisis specialist are:
- Availability. A crisis can occur at any time of the day or night. A crisis specialist, or their staff, must be available around-the-clock.
- Knowledge. In a crisis, you need a public relations professional who understands your organisation’s values, mission and operations and can communicate these effectively.
- Flexibility. A crisis can quickly evolve, so a crisis specialist must be prepared to advise you and adjust strategies and messages in line with how your stakeholders are responding.
Cole Lawson employs several crisis specialists with extensive experience. If you want to find out how to help your organisation come through a crisis with the upper-hand, contact us today to find out how we can assist.