By: Allison Haworth
In weeks past, there have been many occurrences of crisis communications at play. Debatably one of the most demanding sectors of PR, crisis communications is “the effort taken by a company to communicate with the public and stockholders when an unexpected event occurs that could have a negative impact on the company's reputation” (PR News Online).
Most large companies outsource a PR agency to take care of all their PR needs. In one incident lately, NBC was in dire need of crisis communications for the host of The Today Show, Matt Lauer. After sexual assault allegations unwrapping this past week, the crisis communications team for NBC was hard at work considering Lauer was fired only 24 hours after the discovery of sexual assault accusations. One may think, how does crisis communications have time to alleviate the situation in 24 hours?
A major part of crisis communications entails the reconfiguration of a company's image after a traumatic event has happened. In order to deviate this negative spotlight, crisis communications plans are implemented as soon as possible to recover from the impact.
As for NBC, the termination of Lauer was most likely the first step in getting this out of the news. While there are many hidden steps to recover The Today Show’s reputation, one of the steps was to issue a public apology from Matt Lauer himself; To take responsibility for his actions and show that NBC doesn’t tolerate or value those actions.
In just about any major negative news story, crisis communications departments are quick to react to recover and repair the reputation of the company at risk. Crisis communications is hard work but necessary to keep the negative news stories out of the media.
By Rachel Zetwick
This past summer, I was a PR and Marketing Coordinator at the Ohio State Fair. During the first night of the Fair, a ride malfunctioned and killed an 18-year-old man and injured seven. As soon as I got back to my desk after the accident, I received calls from NBC’s “Today” show, CNN and multiple local news networks.
While my team and I learned about the importance of crisis communication under very dire circumstances, we left with new skills we did not expect to gain. Here are my three biggest takeaways from my crisis communication experience:
1. Have a plan in place
Before the Fair, all employees attended a crisis communication meeting to prepare for a variety of potential crises. We collaborated with emergency staff, created a group communication system and shared documents that detailed plans for all aspects of the Fair.
2. Treat media to the same standard
After the accident, we created a staging area for the media to go live and take B-roll. We made sure that all networks and reporters had the same access to footage so we did not give anyone preferential treatment.
3. Think about your scheduled content
During the months before the Fair, we scheduled numerous Facebook posts, press releases and blog posts. We immediately changed our editorial calendar so that we did not provide insensitive information to our audiences.