PR 101 – How to Handle a PR Crisis

Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if, but when…

A PR crisis can be a headache for management, but even if it wasn’t your fault, it’s your job to fix it. Whether it was an internal gaff or an unfortunate external circumstance, you should be ready to deal with all sorts of crises that may arise. The steps below will give you a starting point when it is your turn to deal with a crisis.

  1. Be prepared. By predicting potential crises and developing a framework for dealing with them, you will save precious time when one develops. Routinely monitoring social media platforms should be a cornerstone of your plan because that is often where members of the public first air their grievances. Even if you don’t have a social media presence, your organization can still be discussed, so stay on top by regularly monitoring relevant platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Check out these examples of social media’s role in PR crises.
  2. To apologize or not to apologize? This should be one of the first decisions you make when a crisis develops. Just because people are angry doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake. You may have simply made a tough decision and now you need to stand by it. Reflect on your organization’s standards and ask yourself, ‘Are we in the wrong?’ If so, make the apology immediate and unequivocal. If not, carefully and succinctly lay out your side of the story. Just don’t copy how United handled their crisis last April.

  3. Provide limited, but honest, information. Ask yourself,
    – ‘How does this piece of information fit with our communication strategy?’
    ‘How do we expect this piece of information to shape the public’s perception of us?’ 
    Just because you have all the information doesn’t mean you need to share it immediately. However, you should always be honest and consistent to avoid making a crisis worse.
  4. Take action. Even if you feel like you’re in the right, there’s a reason the public is angry.  Clearly communicate what needs to be done and outline the steps you are taking to solve stakeholder’s complaints. A press release is often the best way to communicate this action. Johnson & Johnson’s handling of the 1982 tampered Tylenol crisis has become a case study for how management should respond with bold action to the worst types of crises.
  5. Evaluate the process. If this was your first PR crisis, it probably won’t be your last. Learn from what did and didn’t work and update your crisis management plans accordingly.

If you would like to review your crisis management strategy, or if you need help dealing with an ongoing PR problem, Targeted Persuasion is here to help.

PR 101 – The Beginning, Middle, and End to the Perfect Press Release

How do you tell the world what’s happening with your organization? One of the best, and easiest, methods is a press release. If you follow the steps below and reference past Targeted Persuasion press releases, you’ll be well on your way to attracting the media attention that your event or announcement deserves.

  • BEGINNING: Contact Info and Headline
    Lead off your press release with the name, phone number, and email of a representative from your organization. Beneath that should be an attention-grabbing headline that clearly outlines the reason for the press release. Try to keep the headline under 70 characters.*Note; ‘FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE’ tells the media that there’s no delay in the announcement.
  • MIDDLE: Body Paragraphs and Quotes
    Once you’ve grabbed your reader’s attention with a strong headline, it is important to provide relevant information in a concise way. Focus on the ‘who, what, when, where, etc.’ in the first paragraph. Use subsequent paragraphs to elaborate on the facts of the story.
    * Note; While the content of the press release should not include opinions, adding quotes can give you an editorial advantage, so be sure to include remarks from relevant people.
  • END: Boilerplate and call to action
    Don’t leave reporters hanging at the end of a press release. Make sure to add a description of your organization, called a boilerplate, at the end. Below is a short and sweet example from Live Nation.

If you’re looking for additional tips, The Guardian and Huffington Post both have some great pieces on press releases.

Also, be sure to check out this press release Targeted Persuasion sent out for an event we organized for our client, The National Restaurant Association:


Check out the coverage we received from The Charlotte Observer for this event. Notice how they quote heavily from our press release? Placing clear and concise quotes in your release, along with all of the relevant facts, can help reporters tell your story and allows you to control the narrative.


What We Can Learn About Influencer Marketing From The Winter Olympics

Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn have been capturing America’s attention (and marketing dollars) for years, but for the 2018 Olympic games in PyeongChang, companies are rolling the dice on underdogs. The value here lies in what these influencers can provide for your marketing campaign (for more info on influencer marketing, check out this article from the Targeted Persuasion blog). As the hype around influencer marketing grows, even small and mid-sized companies are jumping on board to capitalize on this low cost way of reaching customers through new channels. Check out these stars who have already made a splash at this year’s Winter Olympics.

  • Chloe Kim is a snowboarding sensation and her ability in the halfpipe is only matched by her social media savvy. Her gold medal winning performance, combined with her ability to generate buzz online, has made her a great asset to brands like Nike and Visa. Okay, we admit it. We cheated a little here by including Kim in a list of ‘underdogs.’ But at only 17 years old it’s safe to say Chloe is just getting started. And she’s already cashing in.
  • Red Gerard: This 5-foot-5 17-year-old became the first American to capture gold in Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle. Brands like Red Bull and Protec are happy they signed this rising American athlete early.
  • Perrine Laffont: With only 15,600 Instagram followers before the games started, this 19-year-old Frenchwoman was not on many people’s radar, but after winning gold in the Women’s Moguls, her influencer marketing value will shoot up, if not her Instagram followers.
  • Mark McMorris: 11 months ago, this Canadian snowboarder was in a medically induced coma after a snowboarding accident, but on Sunday, he was standing on the podium with a bronze medal in Men’s Slopestyle. This type of comeback story is inspiring to all and creates a perfect influencer marketing storyline.

Even Alibaba, one of the largest companies in the world, is looking small with their “To the Greatness of the Small” Olympic campaign.

Alibaba sees the value of local connections that smaller-name athletes have in their respective countries.

However, if you’re running an advocacy group, political campaign, or small business, landing an underdog Olympic athlete may not be feasible or practical. That doesn’t mean you should turn your back on influencer marketing. In fact, you can still leverage the advantages of a local influencer by looking for activists, trendsetters, or personalities in your community. Take the Humane Society of Charlotte, for example, who enlisted the help of Panthers head coach Ron Rivera for their Safe Bet. Adopt a Pet marketing campaign.


Need help finding an influencer in your community? Try hiring a communications or public relations firm like Targeted Persuasion to give you a hand.