Over the past couple of years I have discussed examples of crisis PR done wrong. One great example was Tiger Woods. However, this past weekend I witnessed a really good example of crisis PR done right.
Over the weekend the Boston area had a major water main break. This break has caused 2 million people to go without fresh tap water. Of course this has been non-stop breaking news here in Boston. While there are lots of questions to be answered about how this happened to a pipe less then 10 years old, no one should question the communication and crisis response. The Governor, State officials, water authority, and the media were all in sync. They handled the crisis smoothly and professionally. If they were holding anything back, they didn’t seem to show it. They communicated in an upfront, open dialogue.
This is exactly what should always happen when it comes to handling a PR crisis. When you are upfront and tell people like it is, they respect you more. They may not always agree with your decision. They may be angry with the crisis. However, I find they will appreciate that you were upfront with them. Airlines are notorious for not being upfront with passengers. I never understood this.
If you handle PR for your event or venue you should always have a crisis PR plan ready to go. It is worth your time and effort to sit with all managers in your organization and write out a plan. The minutes and few hours after a crisis happens are the most critical for how the PR crisis is handled. You want to set the tone of the message, not the media. In our business there is always a PR crisis on the horizon. Are you ready to do it right?