As Warren Buffet says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” If every executive or chief security officer considered the long-term effects that crises like data breaches or other reputational issues could have on their organization, they would no doubt seek the experience of public relations professionals to help craft their communications plan.
Hiring a PR team will benefit your organization in the long run for several reasons:
- PR folks will ensure your organization is ready with an effective communications plans before a crisis strikes. Having a communications plan is a form of “reputation insurance.” It’s a good idea to have one in place today so you’re prepared if the worst happens. An effective communications plan will provide a blue print for key leaders to work together to control the story, prevent issues from escalating and help minimize the negative effects of the damage. Additionally, a solid communications plan will protect the reputation of your brand/organization and its leaders, providing a solid platform to succeed well into the future.
- Crises are not the time to learn on the job. In a recent Sikich survey, 58% of businesses felt their organization was only somewhat prepared to respond to a data breach. Whenever possible, make sure you work with seasoned PR professionals who have some expertise in your industry. Though each communications challenge is certainly different, an experienced PR person will have the ability to confidently guide your next steps and understand how best to handle both internal communications and work with the media, under pressure.
- PR folks are typically expert storytellers that will help carefully craft your words. During a crisis, especially one like a data breach, organization leaders may feel like their house is on fire. A PR professional will help calm everyone down and control the burning. During a crisis, words and actions are often the best indicators of recovery. With proper tone and delivery, each message is an opportunity to repair and build relationships with stakeholders.
Though no one wants their organization or business to face a crisis, planning for potential issues today by ensuring you have access to a team of PR professionals and thinking about a communications plan now, will ensure you have a fighting chance to make the best of a bad situation. Contact Kara Hamstra at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
About the Author
Kara Hamstra is a Director at Sikich Public Relations with more than 14 years of experience in Business-to-Consumer PR. At Sikich, Kara leads the consumer product division of the full-service PR team for a wide variety of clients, including high-end juvenile products and health-related organizations. She handles crisis work at Sikich, including client counsel, corporate communications and media relations for data breaches and other reputational issues. Prior to joining Sikich in 2013, Kara worked for two large, international PR firms working for the world’s leading CPG companies.