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Thursday, 17 June 2010

DISASTER!!! How will you respond?

Imagine this scenario: you’re the managing director of the main contractor building a massive new commercial development in a major city centre. Suddenly, a crane collapses causing carnage on the site below and a number of people are seriously injured. Within minutes, video footage of the crane collapsing is on the internet, reporters from the national media are contacting you for comment. Your company’s reputation is on the line – what are you going to do?

That’s just one example of a public relations crisis situation a construction firm might face, but crises can take many forms. It could be a programme of redundancies attracting negative press attention, allegations of bid-rigging, a vicious blog from a disgruntled employee or an environmental incident.

In the digital age, there’s an even greater risk of unwanted headlines damaging the reputation of your business. Thanks to the advent of social media such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, photos or even a video of a construction site which doesn’t comply with health and safety regulations can be posted on the internet with ease, and immediately, you’ve got a negative story and a reputation problem on your hands.

How will you respond? With a little foresight, preparation and a strategy, you can protect your good name and turn a potential PR crisis into a media opportunity that wins you customers and public support. Here are three points to remember:

1. Preparation is key – If you can step back and make an honest assessment of any potential issues in your organisation and make a plan, you’ll be better prepared when a crisis hits. Assistance from a professional communications firm can establish a framework so you can respond effectively when something does go wrong. A proactive approach is always best: if you have had problems in the past, take the necessary steps to ensure that your professional reputation isn’t compromised in the future.

2. Have a crisis communications strategy in place, and one that also deals with protecting your online reputation – Decide what you need to tell people and who you need to tell before you speak to the media. And, select the right spokesperson for the job. Choose someone who can communicate well and who understands the issues. Media training in advance can help.

3. Get your facts straight – The easiest way to shoot yourself in the foot is tell your side of the story without knowing the facts. Double-check your information with more than one source. Also, remember that journalists work to deadlines and need information quickly. If they don’t get it from you, they’ll get it from someone else!

E=MC2 Public Relations specialises in strategic public relations and reputation management for the construction, architecture, engineering, property and design sectors. Its activities include writing and placing press releases, press office management, crisis communications, media relations and online reputation management.

For further information, contact us on 01747 871752 or visit our website: You can find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. It's made me realise that we don't have an action plan.