PR 101 – Make sure you have a robust PR plan before crisis strikes

Calacus has just returned from the recent SportAccord Convention held in the magnificent surroundings of Sochi, venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

‘Where Sport Meets’ is the slogan of the event which has become a must-attend meeting in the sport business calendar, but recent developments have put its future in doubt.

SportAccord’s President, Marius Vizer, criticised the International Olympic Committee and other individuals within the global sports movement.

The comments sent shock waves through the world of sport and provoked acres of newsprint.

You can read more about the controversy HERE, but here’s a few tips to minimise the fallout when communicating difficult subjects.  

1.       Put a Public Relations strategy in place before taking any action. That means planning what you are going to do and how you are going to communicate it to the audiences that matter

2.       Plan for every possible scenario so you are prepared to any eventuality. That way, you are always in control and are not likely to be wrong-footed by developments

3.       Make sure stakeholders are informed. While issues of a controversial nature may require extreme care in order to protect confidentiality, ambushing those who would expect to be informed of your plans can undermine their trust or support in future collaboration with you

4.       Ensure that you have third-party supporters and facts at hand alongside any opinions you may be making

5.       No comment is never an option. There will always be someone out there willing to talk, either a former disgruntled associate or an expert inviting to give the benefit of their experience of working with you or similar organisations

6.       Never speculate about the motives or reactions of others. Show empathy or sympathy if the situation requires it, certainly, but never try and read minds

7.       Avoid getting into public slanging matches. Not only will this look bad but it may undermine your credibility with other clients or stakeholders

8.       Ensure your messaging is consistent. Saying different things to different audiences just because you think it is what they want to hear undermines credibility and creates confusion. And never be tempted to lie

9.       Establish strong relationships with key media – or work with people who already know and understand the media. It saves time and will ensure you’re talking to your target audiences in language that resonates with them. Don’t ever think anything is off the record – the media are hungry for stories and even if they don’t quote you, they’ll look for ways to stand up a story that you’ve told them

10.   Use every interview as an opportunity to remind your audiences of the good things you do, the successes you have and the positives that will drive you forward

At Calacus, we work with a wide range of organisations to help them shape their stories and manage both positive and challenging situations

If you’re interested in public relations support, get in touch.