A stint of bad PR can happen to any organisation. Your reputation takes a nosedive, staff lose morale, you may lose customers or clients.

Things are going downhill and fast.

At this point damage control kicks in and, as the communications expert, expectations are flying at you from every angle.

You need to appease management, make staff feel appreciated, help get the business back on track and rebuild the trust of stakeholders – all within record time.

It’s a lot to take in, but risk analysis and risk management can help you make the right decision for your organisation.

  1. Assess the publicity – good and bad – What’s been said, who’s taking notice, and what’s sentiment like?
  2. Talk to the right people – What happened? Where does management stand? Is there truth to what’s being said?
  3. Decipher the information – If you respond, what do you say?
  4. Analyse the risk – What impact will this have and on who? Will the organisation or others suffer?
  5. Do scenario building – What are the best and worst case scenarios for each decision?
  6. Make a decision – Who comes first? Be prepared to justify your decision based on the level of risk.

You may choose to keep a low profile and regain trust and respect over time by building positive relationships with media and promoting the good work your staff and organisation is doing.

Understand however that keeping quiet can be viewed as wrongdoing, or not caring.

It might be preferable to tackle the publicity head on in which case you need to be smart. Be honest, admit to mistakes, be sympathetic or refute the claims if needed.

But remember, organisations who show that they care about people, whether it be shareholders, customers, staff or members of the public, will be more likely to come out ahead.

Whatever course you take there’s a fine line between protecting your organisation’s reputation, and letting things ‘blow over’. Getting the balance right can be tough.