This article originally ran on PR Daily in January of 2017.
Making your brand or client look good is different from making them look un-bad.
The latter is often the territory of crisis PR experts, but if you’re in PR, you should know the basics of defusing a bad situation before it gets bigger—and how to keep clients out of harm’s way while the experts rush in.
There are media disruptions, and there are media crises.
Media disruptions set off alarms for the brand/client but are short lived and relatively easy to remedy. Think of things like a snarky comment that casts a brand in an unflattering light or an executive going publicly rogue in an embarrassing way.
Media crises, on the other hand, often emerge out of left field and threaten to compromise an organization’s credibility and livelihood. Such was the case when a consumer’s wide-reaching complaint about McDonald’s third-degree-burn-producing coffee turned into the fast-food chain’s worst nightmare.