Learning about crises as a public relations student is almost unavoidable, but it is necessary. In the ambiance of public relations, crises are an inevitable reality. Since most crises take some time to expand into the public eye, there is little chance they are preventable. Crises are distinguished as natural disasters, corporate aspersion, breaches of security, and workplace violence. Considering these harsh realities, there is one vital factor in mitigating crises, and that is attentiveness.
Why Might Attentiveness Be a Leading Factor in the Success or Failure of a PR Professional During a Crisis?
• Attentiveness means being attuned to the inputs of the situation and the people involved.
• It allows PR professionals to create intentionally effective strategies and tactics instead of defective ones, which can be the difference between success and failure.
• During a crisis, this can signify the awareness and comprehension of how stakeholders and the public are reacting to the situation. Essentially, being attentive allows a PR professional to respond justly.
PR professionals keep an eye on the information that is discharged from news sources and social media. That being said, attentiveness also makes managing the flow of information during a crisis more attainable. Since false information can spread quickly, it is up to the PR expert to validate the information that is being shared.
Real-life Example of a Well-handled Crisis
Seven people were pronounced dead in the 1982 Tylenol capsule incident that involved Johnson & Johnson. Considering the crisis, Johnson & Johnson made a widespread announcement, stopped all product advertising, and connected with key stakeholders and healthcare organizations. Additionally, there were thirty-one million bottles recalled and a one-hundred-thousand-dollar reward. Instead of denying or shifting the blame, the organization embarked on transparency by taking full responsibility and employing safer tactics to combat this crisis.
Keep in mind that the response to a crisis is always more important than the event that took place.
Isa Walker, Account Associate