Its not always smooth sailing in the field of Public Relations. As the professional, we have been taught to always keep calm in a situation of crisis and to never show fear in the face of a challenge. Although, when your blood starts to boil because your diva client thinks he or she knows everything or a journalist featured your company in a horrible story, reacting carefully and calculating your plan of action will remind everyone that you are the professional for a reason.
Let me give you an example: your client seems to think that telling the New York Times that the company funding his project has a pompous CEO who doesn’t understand art. The story runs front page and you have three missed calls, from your boss, the artist, and the CEO. Lets be honest, your fuming…but you don’t have time to be angry because YOU have to fix this. Write down your plan of action, the first call your going to make is to your boss alerting him of how you plan to sooth hard feelings. You will probably take the heat for your prima donna’s big mouth so be prepared to endure criticism from your boss. As the PR professional, you do not get the time to be furious so don’t let anger hinder your ability to come up with a plan of action.
The pretentious client gets the second phone call, because he can not believe that the journalist choose to quote him stating his opinion. Calmly remind him that in the future he must stick to pre-fixed talking points for this exact reason and that just because press asked a question, does not mean he has to answer it. An apologetic phone call or email from the artist to the CEO is unlikely, therefore when you contact the CEO funding the project, you are apologizing on behalf of the artist. Be sure to remind him of the positive press he has received through this project and ensure him that this story can be countered. Repairing relationships between your clients, the public and other parties is imperative. NEVER try to cover up the negative incident, you have to acknowledge what happened and take steps to counter its consequences.
Often there is nothing you can do about the published story, it’s out there in the public eye. Although you can make your clients unavailable to that particular journalist in the future. After speaking with your client again about press etiquette, hopefully all potential press contact will be negotiated by you. Your presence is necessary for all future interviews and talking points will be the only matters discussed with journalists. Lastly, try to immediately follow this negative press by pitching a positive story about your client or the company funding his/her project. It is best to just stash your frustrations because although yelling and complaining about the press or your client may make you feel better, it will not help you solve your problem efficiently and in a professional manner.
This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Emily Storz.