Communicators must now respond more rapidly than ever to crises. One tweet, after all, can explode into a PR firestorm in a matter of seconds.
This “need for speed” doesn’t have to preclude—or ignore—careful planning. Here’s how to strike a balance:
1. Prepare “holding” statements. Communicators tend to be perfectionists when it comes to making compelling statements or developing sound bites.
“In the interest of accuracy, there’s often a temptation to wait until making any public statement during a crisis,” says Lorna Bush, senior vice president at Fineman PR, “but silence can be perceived as a lack of concern. Missing that first media cycle can mean all the difference in how your company is positioned by the press during the critical initial hours of a crisis.”
She recommends prioritizing an initial holding statement to be issued at the first indication of a crisis. The statement should be brief and social media ready to meet the public’s craving and journalists’ need for urgent information, while buying you time to collect the necessary facts and assess the full situation.