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PR and Risk Management

Here’s an inconvenient truth – your company is not immune from the risk of a botched marketing or public relations campaign. From Facebook’s follies around data privacy and Elon Musk’s public attacks against a British rescuer in Thailand to the US Air Force’s insensitive use of a viral meme, the past year alone has seen organizations of all sizes fall headfirst into the windstorm of blowback and bruised reputations. Don’t let this happen to your business; be prepared with a plan to leverage PR and risk management before crises emerge.   

Protecting your brand ought to be a priority for your management team. So, before you catch yourself wondering what went wrong with your next campaign, we’ve put together a checklist of risk management questions for you to consider.  

Do you know who your stakeholders are and what they value?

Stakeholder Asking a QuestionWhen it comes to risk management, stakeholders are those who are going to be impacted by a business’s actions. This includes a variety of individuals from your management team to your supply chain partners, clients, leads, and anyone else involved with your public relations campaigns. As your campaign evolves, different stakeholders may hold more potential to influence your company than others. We recommend categorizing them based on power and interest; that way, you know where to focus your efforts, how to communicate with stakeholders optimally,  and when it is time to shift focus to another group.

When you’re preparing to launch a new marketing campaign, keep your stakeholders’ values in mind. What you think is funny or creative may not resonate in the same manner to your audience. Likewise, choose your tactics carefully. For example, cold sales calls without an inbound marketing strategy are likely to receive, well, a chilly reception. If you want your company to be regarded as a true thought leader and market influencer, you need to demonstrate that you understand and can engage with what your listeners are going through.

Have you conducted a risk assessment with your team?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Proper risk prevention begins with a full risk assessment audit. Much like a cybersecurity audit, your goal is to identify your company’s public relations weaknesses and plan for how you can mitigate them. This planning phase should address the following questions:

  • What crisis scenarios could plausibly come out of your pubic relations activities? Do you have an appropriate corresponding response plan for these scenarios?
  • In the event of an unforeseen crisis, in what order does your team get involved?
  • How will your team craft a proactive crisis response? Do you have any internal messaging resources that can be leveraged quickly?
  • Do you have a well-understood, company-wide social media policy? During a crisis, don’t batten down the hatches. Be active with empathetic messages that can support your reputation while you solve the problem.
  • Once you have your response created, who needs to approve it before it can be implemented?
  • Who should be authorized to speak on your organization’s behalf?

How does PR and risk management go hand in hand?

Holding HandsThe final step of effective risk management planning is to get in front of potential issues and crises before they happen. Have you identified influencers (bloggers, social media personalities, etc.) that you could build trust with in order to protect your brand image if the unthinkable happens? Have you aligned all your internal teams with a unifying message about your key values? Remember that your employees can be your biggest asset here. If there is a misalignment between your communication intent and what your employees perceive, this is a recipe for confusion and a campaign that goes sideways.

Public relations and risk management is a topic rich enough for a textbook. We’ve opted to try and give you the most salient items to consider for protecting your brand. For even greater assurance, contact us today and ask our team of public relations pros to get started helping you plan for success.


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