Recent weeks have not been very kind to some of the world’s most high-profile brands, once again highlighting the importance of effective public relations executive search.
Large corporations in a slew of industries are finding themselves in the headlines–and not for the reasons they’d like. Just a few of the many examples:
A United Airlines passenger was dragged off an overbooked flight–an event that was filmed by many other passengers and subsequently went viral.
A “string of negative publicity” recently led to the resignation of Uber’s company’s Head of Communications.
Hopefully your organization, however large, will never encounter a disaster on the scale such as one of these events. But when you operate on a global scale, employ thousands of people, push a lot of messages and have a broad customer base, some mistakes are inevitable.
You can’t always control what happens to your business. But you can influence the scale of the mistakes that happen–and control how your organization responds when they occur.
Starting at the Top
These days, messaging can quickly be snatched away from your control and turned into a narrative that’s damaging to your brand in no time. The power of social media enables consumers to share events, opinions, and stories like wildfire. Even minor things you might consider unimportant can escalate rapidly.
The most important way to avoid foreseeable PR disasters and navigate the inevitable ones is to have a communications mastermind on-hand ready to respond to anything the world can throw your way.
Great crisis management begins and ends with great public relations leadership. Don’t wait until you’re already neck-deep in an emergency to try to hire one; begin your communications executive search sooner rather than later. In the unfortunate event that you DO need PR leadership ASAP, consider getting a PR consultant or interim marketing executive to carry you through the crisis.
Insourcing Your Crisis Response Team
Many businesses have traditionally partnered with PR agencies and, more recently, social media agencies to handle their communications needs.
There’s nothing wrong with developing powerful relationships with effective third parties. Those partnerships can be extremely valuable for getting visibility for certain key initiatives and campaigns. But even the best PR agencies tend to be poorly equipped to handle the brand emergencies of today.
A communications crisis can go viral in a matter of minutes. A speedy, appropriate response means the difference between a tarnished brand reputation and getting through the crisis smoothly.
But working through agency channels slows things down with an extra layer of approvals, internal systems and information gatekeepers. When a crisis comes your way, your business will be best prepared if it already has staff on-hand who are intimately familiar with your brand and can be directly managed by the previously mentioned communications genius you’ve already hired.
That might mean some strategic communications recruitment on your part, or even insourcing a marketing agency. Whatever your solution, make sure you’re not reliant on someone else to handle your own urgent problems.
Dodging Brand Emergencies
Like most business problems, it’s usually most effective to avoid a PR crisis altogether.
In today’s sensitive online environment, your brand is only as strong as its weakest link. A good executive search from experienced public relations recruiters will find your organization someone who relentlessly searches for vulnerabilities and closes them up. That will help you avoid obvious pitfalls and tie up the loose ends that are most likely to get you in trouble.
There are many potential ways your organization can make a mistake and draw negative attention. Negative customer experiences, tenuous relations with your employees, or a marketing message that’s politically or factually incorrect and more could all come back to bite you.
A clever communications expert will also ensure that your organization is perpetually pushing out positive messaging and gathering favorable testimonials to proactively counteract the inevitable bad press.
Mobilizing and Scaling
The potential for a brand gaffe to blow up online is nearly constant. A disgruntled customer can smear you on Twitter, a key executive could get caught saying something stupid on record, a defective product might go viral on YouTube.
These kinds of challenges are the weekly reality of many larger businesses today. But fortunately, they’re usually on a pretty small scale and can be managed with good PR policies and by partnering with a top PR executive search firm.
Imagine that your heavily-distributed product started exploding or giving people listeria…
However, sometimes an emergency is so big and unexpected that you just don’t have enough internal capacity to handle it right.
For instance, imagine that your heavily-distributed product started exploding or giving people listeria. That’s the kind of brand-damaging problem most companies just don’t expect and aren’t ready to handle.
If the worst happens, you’ll probably need more hands on deck than your current communications teams are prepared to handle. An experienced PR executive will be able to manage the onboarding of various resources, whether pulling from other internal teams or getting external help from communications and public relations staffing, consultants, and agencies.