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Crisis Communication

By: Kelly O'Brien

Public Relations professionals have a lot of different types of responsibilities. When we think of a crisis that affects a large amount of people, often natural disasters come to mind. However, companies face their own smaller scale crises.  

Each company should have a crisis management team. This team is put in place to handle the company’s issues and assess possible threats to the organization. If it is decided that the company is going through a crisis, the team will decide what steps to take to overcome the issue.  Having a separate team to handle crises, allows employees to focus on their own tasks, rather than dropping everything when a problem arises.

As public relations professionals it is our job to make the company appealing to the public and specifically its consumers.  It's relatively easy to shed positive light on a company, but when pr professionals have to clean up a crisis, sometimes it can be harder to regain support from consumers, thus making a crisis team important. Companies can face backlash from the public about a specific endorsement (Livestrong supporting Neil Armstrong), offensive commercials (Dove and racism of women represented changing) and even just ignorance in an entire campaign, like with the Kendall Jenner Pepsi campaign.

Kendall Jenner Pepsi campaign

The advertisement Pepsi released earlier this year displayed a protest ending with Kendall Jenner handing a police officer a Pepsi, representing her creating peace among citizens and the police.  

The company faced a lot of backlash from this, many people thought they were making light of a very serious problem, police brutality. The way the PR team at Pepsi handled this crisis was critical to the future of the company's reputation.

Dawn and BP oil

An example of a corporate company having a positive experience in the media is the Dawn commercials in 2010, around the same time as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Dawn responded to a crisis that affected the majority of the public and it made more consumers support their brand.

PR plays a big role in the success of companies. Without a positive relationship with the public a company would not be able to flourish. The way a company responds to a situation is a reflection of the company itself.