What constitutes a PR Crisis – and what it definitely isn’t
The PR industry's functions routinely get misinterpreted in popular media. One of the key fallacies is the responsibility of the "PR Crisis" - but what exactly is it?
It is ironic that the PR industry struggles with reputation management of its own. The executives who work day and night to make sure their clients save face in public make no efforts to save their own. However, leading industry professional and author of marketing blog Spin Sucks, Gini Dietrich, is known to actively defend the profession. Her recent blog post, which you can read here, speaks of how the average person misunderstands the concept of a “PR crisis,” which ultimately leads them to misunderstand what the PR industry does at all.
Dietrich explains that a ‘business’ crisis, which becomes public, often gets touted as a ‘PR’ crisis. The blame almost always comes onto the agency handling the communication strategy – even when the offending issue was out of their control. There is an erroneous perception that having a strong control on the communication chain can fix everything. But more often than not, the problem starts at the executive level – here, decisions aren’t made by the PR team. The crisis to come maybe a result of leadership failure, poor judgement, or many other shortcomings of the business itself. The PR team must plan ahead of time for such contingencies and warn their clients about it, but if no one listens to their counsel and insights, what can they do, besides trying to salvage the situation?
In conclusion, a situation can be termed as a ‘Public Relations’ crisis, but it must be discerned that it was through no fault of the Public Relations team. One might even say that the PR crisis isn’t the fault of the PR team – it’s a crisis meant to be averted by the sagacity of the PR team.