January 18, 2013
Learning Reputation Management Tactics Overnight and Other PR Myths
It never fails that a celebrity client or sports star is involved with an after hours brawl, run in with the law or other PR nightmare. At 5WPR, our team members are sometimes called out of bed in the middle of the night – literally – to put our heads together on some scheme to snuff out negative chatter. Our PR clients rely on us as their go-to PR firm to drag their reputation out of the gutter when bad publicity explodes throughout the online newswire. But we didn’t earn our outstanding reputation in the aftermath of just one or even 20 widely publicized catastrophes.
Take, for instance, the different individuals and NFL teams involved in the fallout from the bounty program. From the player level, to members of the coaching staff, to entire organizations, the scandal hit the league like a ton of bricks. Careers were devastated by the potential suspensions and penalties that might be handed down, well before final decisions were ever made regarding the punishments that would be levied. Some sports pundits wondered if the players and other staff would ever rebound from the controversy, even after fines had been paid and suspensions were served.
As a top PR firm, our team reacts to a crisis like this particular scandal with a swift move into reputation management mode. Going on 10 years in the public relations industry, the damage control frenzy surrounding the bounty controversy is commonplace and we have seen our fair share of media disasters. With every publicity snag that befalls one of our celebrity clients, we learn and apply the techniques to future catastrophes.
When it comes to reacting to a crisis and restoring a reputation, you have heard my adage “content is king.” While I don’t want to dilute that point, I also want to stress that rapid response is also key. Attack the blogosphere with an aggressive campaign that serves to weakens the impact of negative press. Use newswire resources to distribute press releases to mitigate the bad impression left in the public’s eye by a starlet’s wardrobe malfunction or a sports figure’s too-candid comments about a coach. Your goal is to counter every dent in the client’s reputation with a post that pounds it right back out.
Reputation management in a crisis situation is less about contradicting the media reports, and more towards distraction. Arguing against the incident or scandal will only draw more attention. Our goal as a PR firm is to shed an upbeat light on the positive traits and selfless deeds of our clients, and saturate the online distribution outlets with as much feel-good content as we can circulate.