Following Kristen Stewart’s bombshell last week that she cheated on longtime boyfriend Robert Pattinson with married director Rupert Sanders, Twilight fans all over the world are proclaiming their support for her or jumping onto Team Rob. As a PR person, the people whom I imagine are spending the most time strategizing on how to deal with the situation (beyond Stewart and Pattinson on a personal level) are their publicists. Entire teams backing up each star and this mega franchise have dusted off their crisis PR toolkits and are planning and executing their next moves very carefully.
Below, here is a rundown of Crisis PR 101:
- Anticipate and plan for each possible crisis.
The best time to create any strategy for anything is when all is calm– not in the crossfire of embarrassing headlines and phones ringing incessantly.
- Get trained in how to speak with the media regarding the specific crisis.
The worst thing a spokesperson or celebrity under fire can do is “wing it” on camera or to a reporter. Media interviews are the opportunity to share another side of the story. Think hard about what you want that side to be and how you want to convey it.
- Respond quickly to a situation when it’s warranted.
A celebrity, brand, or company can be heavily criticized in the media and public eye for taking too long to respond to a breaking situation. Waiting too long to address it can make the situation worse as it provides time for more speculation and misinformation to spread. Often, the lack of response can also seem like an admission of guilt or fault. A statement such as “We are looking into this situation and will address it at a press conference later in the week” is normally heard by the public as “We are totally buying time to come up with a plausible excuse.”
- Show sincere compassion for those involved.
The public appreciates sincerity and authenticity, and deplores disingenuity. When an individual or company shows compassion and an understanding of the resulting consequences, it can help acknowledge the situation in a way that people can relate to and perhaps even forgive.
- Determine if you can rectify the situation, set everything in motion, and then communicate the plan to the public.
Today, this means communicating through multiple channels. The best recoveries from a crisis are the ones in which the next steps to improvement or resolution were communicated effectively.
- Ride it out… everything has an end. Yes, even Twilight.