As a public relations specialist, many times you are faced with the stress of executing damage control for your client.
Whether you are a publicist for a major celebrity, or even a public relations firm working with a start-up company, the impact of negative publicity can be detrimental to your client’s success as well as your own. According to the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia, damage control is defined as the “measures taken to offset or minimize damage to reputation, credibility, or public image caused by a controversial act, remark, or revelation.”
Recently, we have seen many celebrities facing negative publicity. Last month, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees was faced with a lifetime suspension due to his involvement with illegal performance enhancers such as performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Miley Cyrus gave a racy performance at the VMAs that was so out of character that it has society wondering if illegal substance abuse was involved. The list continues on and on.
Being public relations specialists, it is easy to recognize that damage control ultimately depends on the nature at hand. However, there are a few tips that can help you prepare for negative publicity. With a little help from an eHow Contributor, this is the list we believe can limit damaging public relations by planning ahead.
Instructions for Planning Ahead:
1. Appoint a spokesperson for the story.
Plan to have only this individual speak on behalf of your client to keep your message clear and on-topic. This is the only person who should have any contact with media organizations.
2. Announce the issue before the media does.
This maximizes your opportunity to place a positive spin on the situation by taking responsibility for informing the public. This can also help you to control which information is immediately available to the public.
3. Respond before it becomes news.
The best way to control negative PR is by fixing the issue as soon as you become aware of it.
4. Publicize the positive action you have taken against the issue.
By announcing your quick and positive reaction, you will likely receive better publicity than if the media breaks the news. If you are not able to fix the issue immediately, inform the media of the steps you will be taking to remedy the situation.
5. Publicly announce how your organization continuously works to limit and respond to this sort of situation.
After discussing responses with members of your organization, it may be a good idea to make those individuals available for interviews.
Tell us about a negative PR story that you’ve seen in the media lately and your thoughts on how it was handled by a public relations firm!