In this Ask the Expert, Tim Cobb from Cobb PR explains the ways in which you can avoid media carnage if your business experiences a very public crisis

Thankfully, the vast majority of Sussex businesses will never experience first-hand a media feeding frenzy caused by an incident, accident or issue that has arisen at your workplace. But what happens if it does? How can you make the best of a difficult and highly stressful situation?

A crisis is an event that could have a damaging effect on your organisation’s reputation. Once your reputation is damaged, you could lose the faith and goodwill of your staff, customers, the wider general public and external organisations that you depend on. In extreme cases, it could mean the end of your organisation.

So here are a few “golden rules” that we have built up over two decades of helping companies dig themselves out of a hole:

  1. Don’t panic – get the facts
  1. Work in a team… but have one spokesman
  1. Keep the information flowing
  1. Be honest and open, accept responsibility when you need to
  1. Apologise when necessary
  1. Show what you’re doing to put things right
  1. Review – next time you’ll be better prepared

You can often head off a crisis by prompt action. But if you ignore the early-warning signs, you may find yourself dealing with public outrage.

If people feel they are being kept informed, they feel less threatened by the situation and are more likely to trust you.

Public outrage is your worst enemy, but the public will find it harder to be outraged at an organisation that is genuinely sorry for its mistake and is doing its best to put things right.

Be honest and open. Accept responsibility and apologise if appropriate.

For more information, call Tim Cobb on 01323 416 999 or email tim@cobbpr.com

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