When I took a position in the public relations office at Langston University several years ago, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind that within months I would be considered an expert on crisis communications. But I found myself taking a lead role when the state of Oklahoma requested assistance from various state agencies on creating a state emergency response plan, and I realized just how much I had learned in a very short time.
The trial by fire that took place for me at Langston University may not have been on my radar at the time, but it was an invaluable experience. Whether it was campus shootings or changes in leadership or working on student/administration relationships, I was given an opportunity to respond to some unique situations that most PR people never come face-to-face with during their long careers.
My experience in crisis communications has come in handy with several clients, whether it was working on public office campaigns or with for-profit businesses. The best piece of advice I can give anyone hiring someone to handle their PR – if there is any chance you might need crisis communications at any time, you should always hire someone who has real experience with handling emergency situations.
Most of the time, people don’t need someone with crisis communications. That’s what makes it such a tough sell. But we are the first call made when there is something that comes up. It might just be a negative comment on social media or it may be something that rises to the level of a significant legal issue. However, I have worked on all these at various times, and I am not intimidated easily by breaks from the norm.
When Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona, lost whatever positive image it had when the owner engaged in a social media battle a few years ago, that was something our clients would have already know not to do. We are hired to engage with people who comment on social media posts, and we always do it professionally. If someone has a beef with the company, we gather information and speak to the individual peacefully and with a clear mind.
Sure, there are times when it can be tough to overcome what happened. When a tired and upset flight attendant deals poorly with a tired and upset passenger and there is video evidence of the ordeal, that is something that has to be massaged carefully. We would need to give attention equally to meeting the passenger’s needs as well as helping maintain a positive public profile. And we can’t forget to be tuned into what it was that caused the employee to react the way they did. There can be a lot of moving parts in a crisis.
I get it. You own a company and you think you can do your own PR. But the bankruptcy courts are full of companies that thought they could handle their own PR. I didn’t go to school and then work in communications for nearly two decades so that someone could tell me their zero years of experience are equal to what I have learned. And that kind of experience isn’t free. So, reach out to us and let us begin helping you help yourself.