- Case Study -
Crisis Communications and Management
A pioneer in the technology industry needed ongoing crisis communications support and came to Next PR to quell misinformation and quiet competitors.
This technology client faced periodic issues, including accusations spread by competitors, disgruntled former employees or stakeholders who lacked a full understanding of its business model. Often leading with emotion, the client struggled to remain fact-based – and instinctively wanted to take a litigious approach instead of addressing the issues at hand. Next PR sought to help the client understand how to be proactive and strategic instead of reactive and emotional.
HOW WE GOT THERE
Next PR’s four-point crisis philosophy is:
1. Create a positive culture with strong company morals. This way, when a crisis hits, it quickly fades due to the company’s ethos.
2. Prepare. Anticipate and plan for a crisis before it happens.
3. Speed matters. If a company is taking too long to respond publicly, the ability to control the narrative slips away.
4. Communicate clearly. Be succinct, straightforward and truthful.
For this client, the team deployed all four components. First, to support positive company culture and build credibility, Next PR encouraged the client to engage in active brand management by promoting positive stories in the media highlighting its work.
From there, the team revamped the client’s outdated, 20-page-long crisis plan and turned it into a dynamic, simplified, slide-based action plan that’s easier to access and digest. Additionally, Next PR helped prepare the company’s executives in crisis communications through role-playing exercises to hone their media relations skills under pressure and refresh their readiness with quarterly updates and crisis drills.
To ease the transition toward a more effective crisis response strategy, the team presented the client with three options: its default combative approach, a lay-low-until-it-passes approach or the recommended approach – reaching out to reporters and managing the conversation with facts and professionalism.
After discussing the likely outcomes and consequences of each crisis response strategy, the client felt empowered to make better decisions and communicate clearly both internally and externally.
With time, proof points and trust-building, the client is now subscribed to Next PR’s crisis philosophy.
When misinformation about the client’s work was mentioned in the press, Next PR recommended reaching out to the reporter and coached the client on building positive press relationships to help set the record straight. The reporter apologized for misreporting the story and allowed the client to draft a statement refuting the claims. He then updated his story, helping the client share the truth publicly.
In another instance, when a positive news story about the client hit social media, competitors rallied together to attack the story with negative comments. The client couldn’t decide if it should come out swinging or stay silent. Next PR assured the team that a calm, direct and professional response was best. The result: An abundance of positive comments about the news story on the client’s social media page buried the negative discussion.
The team also recommended the client navigate crises through an unexpected channel: Glassdoor. The client’s initial reaction to negative employee reviews on the platform was to say nothing and avoid adding fuel to the fire. After education and coaching from Next PR, the client realized remaining silent was a missed opportunity to clarify inaccuracies.
At the height of tech layoffs making front-page news, the client conducted a round of layoffs impacting 10% of its staff. Next PR offered the client guidance on handling external and internal communication. With this insight, the client went into crisis prevention mode, drafting reactive and proactive statements on behalf of executives, as well as corporate social media messaging and Glassdoor responses. Ultimately, the quick action proved an ounce of prevention is worth one pound of cure – the reduction in workforce has not been included in any press coverage to date.
The client has expressed its appreciation for Next PR’s transparency and guidance many times, even looping Next PR into more crisis situations typically only handled at the executive level.