Public Relations in Crisis

They are mostly inexplicable & because of external factors- like rumors  & negative competitive propaganda. The way to handle this kind of crisis is to establish direct contact with your publics & explain the facts. Silence or the “no comment” response is in a way confessing of ignorance, acceptance or guilt.


Wrong public perceptions

Cadbury’s large press campaigns, informing the consumer that the worms found, were actually in very few samples. They also started “project Vishvas” where they distributed coolers and mini refrigerators to retailers to enable better preservation of the product.

Product failure

Here one is referring to damage caused by the failure of products in use- such as injuries, pollution, loss of reputation & esteem & so on. Here honesty is the best policy. You need to be open & transparent. You need to act fast to rectify the situation & communicate fast. Your company & its reputation is more important than its product.

Cash crunch

For daily operations a company needs cash flow. A problem of cash flow can affect one’s performance. This is a problem which PR cannot solve directly. It is a top management problem to be handled by   the CEO & the team. PR can play a supportive role in communicating the management policies of cost cutting & austerity.

Industrial relations

Labour problems, agitations & strikes are common. Dealing with it is an ongoing & continuous process.

Mergers & Acquisitions

This can lead to a crisis when there is a resistance to the takeover or acuistion  from the present management or employees. Usually takeovers are accompanied by change of policies & ways of functioning & this results in conflicts. Good overall performance, good financial practices & communication    at all levels are the important wayts to avoid such crisis.

Press relations in emergencies/crisis

Some of the big questions that an on the spot spokesman should be ready to handle:

•What happened?
•What caused it?
•When did it happen?
•Where did it happen?
•How much damage has occurred?
•Were anybody killed or hurt?
Managing crisis situations

To handle a crisis we need to adopt a focused & concerted effort comprising:

•An action plan


In planning, the key lies in defining the problem clearly. Once the problem & its cause has been understood the next step should be to fix clear-cut objectives that need to be met & can be achieved   by communications with the target publics. 1 must arrive at the final message, or theme, (what to say) & define the primary audience (to whom). A company must be able to communicate effectively to every sector of the community in the event of a crisis.


Whatever strategy be adopted there are some proven guidelines which need to be followed. One looks at all aspects of your operations to identify those that might   become targets of opponents or snowball into bigger issues. Have the information organized & ready at all likely places where it might be needed- in writing if possible.

Be open & honest in your response to the employees, media, & all your target groups. Giving out the information when it is most required is most essential.

Have experts identified & readily available to impart information    whenever & wherever needed. If possible have communication kits prepared & made available to be sent to people   at the crisis scene as quickly as possible.

Train your people for the toughest conditions they might encounter in a crisis- like facing hostile media, being interviewed, tackling baited questions in a television interview & so on.


Whatever strategy prepared should be implemented by keeping two things in mind, in viz: choosing the right media  & getting proper coverage

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