Competing with a crisis is a no-win situation.
It’s happened to about every company: you’re all set to roll out an exciting new product or make a big corporate announcement, when breaking news interrupts.
Many brands around the world likely, and rightly, chose to delay their recent business and product news as the media turned its attention to the situation in Ukraine.
With many reporters having to cover multiple beats, even the most niche business reporter may find their efforts getting redirected by a newsroom trying to keep on top of unfolding events.
Whether it’s a global event, a natural disaster, or civil unrest, the beginning of a crisis is not the time to compete for a reporters’ attention. Not only will your news get buried behind the story of the day, but it could damage your goodwill with the media, and in turn, the public.
If local or global events have derailed your PR plans, don’t panic. Follow these four steps to reset and refocus.
- Know when to pause: You probably have a plan for how to handle things when there’s a crisis at your company, but does your plan include how to react when the crisis is happening outside of your company? Creating a threat matrix – a grid that assigns weighted points based on the size, scope and scale of the event – can determine if the time is right to move ahead or postpone.
- Reschedule: The media can only cover so many things at once, and it’s hard enough to compete for ink and airspace on a quiet day. While it may be difficult and potentially costly, reschedule your announcement. Even delaying by a day or two could make a big difference.
- De-schedule: Beyond media relations, have you considered the other marketing assets related to your news that need to be held back, like social media posts, web pages going live or ad campaigns starting to run? Make sure any pre-scheduled marketing efforts can be paused and rescheduled to match the press rollout date. Also, consider whether you should pause other normal business outreach efforts as well; off-topic outreach during a crisis could come off as insensitive.
- Resist the urge to jump in: When breaking news is dominating the media (and social media) conversation, it can be tempting to want to weigh in from your corporate point of view. But jumping into the conversation on social or political issues can quickly go awry if you are entering a space where you’re not already active in the conversation.
Keep in mind, when an important corporate announcement needs to move forward, be sure you’re working with a crisis expert who can spot potential pitfalls and address unplanned outcomes. It’s always worth it to take a breath and discuss your options before acting.
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