Managing Tough News in Tough Times

Let’s face it, the economy is on everyone’s mind and on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days.

“In a turbulent economy, there is no shortage of bad news,” writes Barbara Pinckney in an article for The Business Review (Albany). As students of public relations and future PR pros, the economy is directly tied to our line of work. “Experts say that in a time like this, what may matter most is the way in which bad news is communicated,” Pinckney explains. She also points out that how issues are handled now will likely have lasting effects on the way the business is perceived in the future.

Here are three tips Pinckney gives for “getting it right” in today’s economy:

  • Be prepared- have guidelines in place for when crisis breaks out. Once a crisis occurs, businesses should assess the situation, list all affected constituencies and craft a message for each (specific to their respective needs) and select and utilize a single, consistent spokesperson.
  • Timing is everything- “‘tell it all, tell it early, tell it yourself.'” In today’s age of technology, “‘tell your news before anyone else can'” because word travels fast.
  • Tell it like it is- the news should be “complete and truthful, with as many details as can be shared.” Candor is key.

As Pinckney points out, “those [businesses] who plan their messages carefully, and deliver it promptly and with candor to all relevant parties, are more likely to be remembered as good corporate citizens.”

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