How to Survive a PR Disaster

By: Meredith Erikson

CrisisAhead (1)
Photo via Bolt PR

Crisis communications is taught to PR students because a PR practitioner is guaranteed to experience at least some type of crisis in their career. Institute for PR says, “A crisis can create three related threats: (1) public safety, (2) financial loss, and (3) reputation loss.” Here are some ways that can help your team not fall under pressure.

Have a plan in place- every company should have some type of crisis plan established. This way your team has something to refer to and won’t react frantically off of unpreparedness. For instance, the Wounded Warrior Project did not have a crisis PR team until after the investigative reporters got on to them. This resulted in a bad interview, defensive and confusing statements on their website and poor media relations. Each member of your team should have an understanding of what the plan is.

The mention of a bad interview brings me to the next tip- have media preparation and talking points. In case your team has to talk to the media, it’s first important to choose a strong spokesperson. Someone who can think on their feet and not look nervous. Preparing talking points is important because you have no idea what exactly the reporter’s going to ask you. According to Entrepreneur, “if you go into an interview or press conference unprepared, it will only spiral your PR crisis further out of control.” You should practice so you can fall back on what you’ve rehearsed. Think of key messages about your organization so you can give something positive to the reporter.

Timeliness-your team must have some type of response within 24 hours of the crisis. It shows that you are acknowledging the situation and are going to take the matter seriously. Social media is a good place to post your first statement, but then you’ll eventually have to do one on your company’s website in the newsroom. Keep in mind with social media that you must respond to your follower’s questions and concerns. Lack of responding can represent lack of care.

The most important thing is to not let your crisis situation turn into even more of a disaster. Not following these steps can potentially result in a damaging reputation. Be prepared, timely and organized.






Scheller, C. (2015, August 25). 5 Things You Must Do to Survive a PR Disaster. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from

Coombs, T. (2014, September 23). Crisis Management and Communications (Updated September 2014) | Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from


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