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11 steps for PR Crisis Management

11 steps for PR Crisis Management

Do you get a buzz from PR crisis management? I do, but don’t tell! Panic gets you nowhere, while balance keeps your brand on track. Diffuse the situation, and potentially you can turn a minus into a plus.

My 11 steps for handling a crisis in PR, walks you through before, during, and after a crisis. Ready to save your brand?

Download My Free PR Crisis management eBook

Download your free PR Crisis Management eBook. Real-life PR crisis examples, expert advice, crisis tools, and templates to help you navigate a crisis and minimize damage.

Every company should be prepared for the inevitable public relations crisis - data breach, executive scandal, negative review, failed event, badly planned marketing campaign.

Yep, it happens to us all. Hit by a PR crisis, you’ll need a fast and carefully crafted response. We’re talking damage limitation, folks. It’s about protecting your brand reputation.

You’ll need a PR crisis communication plan and PR team in place, BEFORE you need them. That’s not to say that when it happens, there’s nothing else to do.

A crisis will be a surprise. How you plan to respond, really can't be. You’ll need holding statements, trained spokespeople, social media monitoring, crisis alerts, role play, and more.

Let’s get you locked and loaded...

Table of contents

What is a PR crisis?

The definition of a PR crisis?

Any business or individual receiving negative, humiliating, damaging publicity.

According to Wikipedia... "Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm the organization or its stakeholders. The study of crisis management originated with large-scale industrial and environmental disasters in the 1980s. It is considered to be the most important process in public relations."

PR crises are serious. Disruptive. Scary. Damaging. The growing popularity of social media means that a crisis can go viral, in an instant.

Trying to stop a crisis going viral online, is like trying to herd kittens.

Pr crisis management example

Taco Bell underestimated the power of social media when a video was posted of an employee calling the police when a deaf man tried to order food at a drive-thru. The video and subsequent shares received over 1.7M views, and 14K+ comments. Needless to say, the majority were negative. It was shared 27K+ times, with that number still rising.

The employee has since been fired and staff were retrained.

Let’s take a look at the sentiment during the first month after it was posted...

Taco Bell negative sentiment in January, showing massive negativity, creating a PR crisis.

Quick Search sentiment analysis. Ouch!

For brands, the potential for crises has increased. No longer restricted to a natural disaster or a corporate scandal. In this digital age - where, let’s face it, we’re online all the time - brands have to contend with fake news, cyberattacks, defamatory rumors, hackers...

We’re online. We share our outrage. We shout our outrage.

How can a brand predict and handle a PR crisis occurring?

Quick! Give Me My Free PR Crisis eBook Now!

Don't wait until it's too late, my free PR crisis management eBook will help you control a crisis and diminish its power.

When is a crisis a crisis?

Not every issue is a crisis…

Before panic sets in, ask yourself...

  • Will this issue critically affect my company’s workflow or send the board into a frenzy?
  • Will our bottom line be disrupted?
  • Will our brand's reputation be damaged - stakeholders, customers, prospects, industry?

You might think that any of the above would constitute a PR disaster. But, you’d ride them, if they occurred separately. Even a couple of them hitting simultaneously, would be manageable. All three?


Before we talk about a full-blown crisis, let’s take a step back. Overreacting will only heighten a potential issue.

Not every issue is a crisis…

A negative review, a mocking social media post. These aren’t crises.

Annoying, certainly. Reacting to them too strongly, can increase the potential for reputational damage. It can turn them into a PR crisis.

To determine the appropriate response, you need to categorize issues. Social media listening will help you recognize an issue that could explode into a PR crisis.

What's consumer sentiment?

Look. Listen. Learn.

How do consumers currently feel about your brand?

If you can’t answer this question, how will you know if sentiment is shifting? Establish the average volume threshold of negative mentions for your brand with sentiment analysis tools. If you see a shift towards negativity, consider it a warning. You could be heading into a PR crisis situation.

Don’t stop monitoring. Running sentiment analysis during a crisis will determine how your customers, influencers, prospects, and your industry are reacting. How they’re reacting will carry significant weight and if negative, could harm your brand. Targeted responses would work well.

Having a comprehensive consumer intelligence strategy will help you understand how customers feel at every touchpoint in their journey.

Which PR crises demand action?

There are three types of crises that would require a swift and well-planned response from you...

PR crisis level 1

Level 1 has the potential to become a damaging PR crisis. Your brand will struggle to walk away unscathed.

  • Product recall - defective and/or unsafe goods

  • Workplace harassment - intimidating, offensive, abusive, discriminating behavior

  • Corporate impropriety - deception, theft, fraud, negligence, corruption, poor customer service

You’ll face negative media mentions across the board - press, social media, news channels, tv, and radio. Your response has to be multichannel. Post your apology and explanation on your website, across social media, press, and broadcast.

PR crisis management plan? No question.

PR crisis level 2

Less scary, but don’t ignore level 2. Customer complaints and criticisms can be dealt with quickly, before they become a major crisis. Depending on where the comments appeared, you can determine whether the issue can be handled one-to-one or publicly.

Monitor with social listening to catch early and respond quickly.

PR crisis level 3

If one of your competitors or related industries experiences a crisis, it could tarnish your brand reputation. By association.

The solution is competitive intelligence. You’re already monitoring your social media channels - I hope - so monitor those of your competitors too. If you get a sniff of a potential issue, post a statement fast. Put distance between your brand and this looming crisis.

Track your competitors - listen to the chatter.

Download Your Free PR Crisis eBook

COVID-19 crisis communication

This guide is constantly updated with new insights and analysis, so it would be remiss of me to ignore the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it had on crisis communication...

None of us saw COVID-19 coming, how devastating it would be, and the fact that we’ll likely be living with the consequences for years to come.

Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, we’ve witnessed a heartbreaking death toll, unemployment, civil unrest, increased fake news, vaccine controversy, businesses going under. We’ve suffered lockdowns, restrictions, isolation, quarantines, endless tests..

Crisis communication has become an essential part of every business strategy. From your local brick and mortar store, to major brands.

People are reacting quickly, often angry and aggressive. Add social media to the mix, and monitoring your social media accounts is essential.

PwC's Global Crisis Survey in 2021 looked at the international business community's response to "unprecedented social, economic and geopolitical disruption." Remember, this was at a time when we were in full pandemic mode. Results included...

  • 62% of respondents used a crisis response plan during the pandemic
  • 95% of businesses said that their crisis management response needed improvement
  • Seven out of 10 businesses say they plan to increase investment in brand protection
  • 75% of respondents said technology helped the coordination of their company's crisis response team

Brands should use social media listening software to monitor online conversations so they can identify potential explosive situations, and respond quickly to avoid a reputation damaging PR crisis.

Anyone else feel as though we’re sitting on a powder keg?

Crisis PR experts are in high demand as brands look to enterprise risk management strategies, damage limitation, and reputation management. Crisis communication has always been a must, but I’m going to highlight why now in particular, the need is growing…

We’re confused

One day we’re going to work, socialising with mates, and seeing our families.

The next… we’re stuck at home, talking to our boss, work colleagues, friends, and family via our computers. Ordering our weekly shop online. Endlessly streaming movies to fill the hours. Jumping on social media to find out the latest news, air our grievances, or learn new dance routines.

PR experts should create clear messaging that helps us cope with the confusion surrounding us. Share relevant information and news updates that clarify the current status.

We’re scared

Global unemployment skyrocketed during the pandemic. With it estimated to exceed 200 million in 2022.

Sat at home, worrying about our future, we’ve used social media as a platform on which to vent our fears.

With brands fighting online fires every day, it’s down to public relations specialists to help us deal with heightened emotions. Offering support and comfort where they can.

We’re angry

Worn down by lockdowns, working from home, shopping for food online. Restrictions lifted. Restrictions reinforced. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Our moods are boiling over.

Crisis communication teams should manage online conversations and take the heat out of them. Listen to what we’re asking for and meet our demands. Make our lives simpler.

We’re reacting

Moving online during the pandemic has changed consumer behavior. We expect more from brands. Personalization, easy purchasing, home delivery… a better customer experience.

If we see brands failing to meet our demands - our expectations - we’ll voice our frustration. Loudly, on social media.

To protect their online reputation, brands need their crisis response team to take control of negative conversations and turn the sentiment around.

How to avoid a PR crisis

You can’t. However, you can minimize the damage and manage a PR crisis if you identify risks early.

There are things you can look out for that if caught early, can be dealt with.

Implement rules for content

Social media messages, blog posts, press releases, interviews, etc. Nothing should be released that hasn’t been checked and approved. Nothing.

Establish guidelines for everything you post.

  • Social media guidelines will help your brand avoid blunders. They need to be flexible, to allow for changes. These social best practices will guide your team, your company voice, the language you use. Guidelines will give context to your social media strategy.

  • A social media policy is stricter. Your team should follow the policy, no question. A comprehensive policy will help you avoid legal issues and security problems. It’ll explain how your team should behave online. It’ll protect your brand’s reputation.

You're gonna love me. I have two handy checklists to help you out, Social media messaging checklist, and Social media checklist. Use together, and you'll be able to find your tone of voice, write punchy messages that resonate with your audience, and analyze results.

Proof, and proof again

You’re not just looking for spelling mistakes. You’re checking for leaks of company information and inappropriate content that will offend. Your PR crisis management social media plan should protect against anything that could potentially rock the boat.

Don’t be offensive!

How many times have you seen brands overstepping the mark with their messaging?

It’s quite simple. Involve other people and ask their opinion? If you’re in any doubt. Pull it.

Remember this?

Who in their right mind…
BTW - Charles is a New York Times columnist with 494K followers!

Lose the fat fingers!

The tweet remained up for several hours, without further enlightenment.

McDonald’s tried to dig itself out of a hole. Failing miserably when Wendy’s jumped onboard!

Wendy’s wiped the smile off Ronald’s face.

Don’t be stupid!

The CEO of PepsiCo - parent company of Doritos - claimed that women “don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. They don’t lick their fingers generously, and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.”

Hello, have we met?

Worth pointing out that the PepsiCo CEO is a WOMAN!

Fair play to Doritos. The brand killed this ridiculous product suggestion.

But, not without a heap of well-deserved ridiculing.

These muted handbag snacks never saw the light of day.

Always expect the unexpected

The unpredictability of a PR crisis makes it difficult to be prepared. Would you have seen these coming?

Unpredictable management behavior

The CEO’s increasingly erratic behavior peaked, with a pot and whisky fueled interview, ONLINE. It went viral. OF COURSE. Stocks plummeted. Key executives quit.

Stone me, Musk pulled a blinder!

I’ll remind you at this point that what you don’t want to go viral… WILL GO VIRAL!

Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, once said that Elon Musk is the most exciting and influential leader on Twitter. We decided to investigate, and published Tesla’s marketing strategy shows that it’s time for CEOs to get social. Take a look and learn how a social media superstar rocks his Twitter account.

Fries and rats

Fries and a rat with your burger?

No joke. A burger restaurant in Delaware introduced a new special to its menu. One eagle-eyed customer caught the product launch on video and posted it online, where it was shared, again, and again, and again.

Just... eewwwwww!

More haste, less speed

Yes, time is of the essence. But, don’t rush in with your eyes closed. You’ll go smack into the first obstacle you come across.

Shut up!

Take a breath!

React emotionally and too quickly, and you’ll make the situation worse.

Most companies - probs all - will face a PR crisis at some point - it’s kinda inevitable. From bad reviews to a management scandal, a negative situation will have a powerful impact on your brand’s reputation.

You’ll make mistakes. You won’t be perfect. But you must be human. You must be honorable.

Here are the steps you need to take to ride a PR crisis, and potentially turn a negative into a positive.

11 steps to manage a PR crisis

Your PR crisis management plan can be divided into three stages…

  • Before
  • During
  • After

The first and third, last forever. The second... feels like it lasts forever.

Forever monitor. Forever listen. Forever learn.

Download Your Free PR Crisis Management eBook

Prepare for a crisis

Should you plan for something you don’t want to happen?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

With your PR crisis plan in place, you and your team will save time, confusion, and stress. When time is of the essence, you can’t afford to waste it. Trying to find the CEO’s mobile number, unable to post on social media because the community manager is on holiday and no one knows the credentials...

You see where I’m coming from?

Handling a social media crisis

You need to establish a social media crisis protocol in your PR crisis communication plan.

Scheduling social media content makes life easier. In the event of a PR crisis, be sensitive to the situation.

Are those planned social posts appropriate? Clear your social calendar and restrict to messages addressing the crisis. Post human responses to your audience’s comments.

Don’t lose your cool. Getting angry or defensive won’t with social media crisis management.

Build a crisis response team

A mishandled crisis is often caused by a leader going rogue, thinking they can deal with the situation without involving their team.

If that’s you, listen to me. You will make things worse. You will be blamed. Your brand will suffer. Up to you.

Build a crisis PR response team and listen to it. Make it diverse. Why? Because your audience is diverse - different races, genders, ages, perspectives, politics, etc.

Run your crisis response messages past the team.

Danny in accounts thinks the message is a winner. Sam in IT can’t relate to it. Steve in sales has scheduled a meeting with HR. Chris in operations hasn’t got a clue.

A diverse team will give you different perspectives. Could your messages be misinterpreted? Will they fuel the crisis fire? What works for some, may offend or baffle others.

I would suggest you run all future communication by the team - marketing campaigns, press releases, posts, etc. - using them like a focus group to provide feedback.

Your PR crisis response team strategy should include...

  • List in order of priority, who should be notified when a crisis strikes. This will depend on the level of severity. Don’t start passing all negative tweets to your CEO. You’ll soon regret it.

  • Ideally, your CEO should lead your crisis team, along with your head of PR and legal. Depending on the nature of the crisis, you’ll need people with knowledge related to the current crisis.

  • Establish a chain of command and an approval process - CEO, marketing manager, legal, HR, etc.

  • Before a crisis strikes, nominate who will speak on behalf of your company - your media spokesperson. Reacting quickly and speaking with one voice is critical, as multiple voices will confuse and possibly exacerbate the situation.

  • Who is responsible for communication? Your marketing team and public relations specialists should be involved - social media messages, press releases, blog posts, etc. Depending on the type of crisis, all comms should be passed by your CEO, legal team, HR.

Nominate and train your spokespeople

Your PR crisis response team should be made up of approved and trained team members. Assigning a person for each channel of communication may be the best way. You might have a great CEO - team leader, knowledgeable, trustworthy - who’s terrible on TV.

Your spokespeople must have...

  • Skills that fit
    Online comms? Good spelling would be an asset. On camera? Being camera shy isn’t going to work.

  • Level of authority
    The nature of the crisis will dictate the level of authority required. National disaster, loss of life - demands your CEO at the helm. Along with external communicators - TV, public meetings, radio, press - you’ll need someone internally to update the team.

  • Appropriate training
    This is about being prepared, ready to respond. This isn’t a marketing opportunity. It’s about protecting your reputation. Ensure your spokespeople are fully up to speed.

Create your PR crisis management plan

When a crisis hits, you’ll be flooded with requests for information. To show that you’re in control of the situation, you have to be ready. This is when your crisis communication plan will come into its own. It should contain:

  • A checklist of what needs to be done - it’s easy to miss steps when everyone’s running around like headless chickens

  • Contact details of key people - aaargh… the head of support is on holiday and I don’t have the deputy’s mobile number

  • Who you gonna call? Experts, friendly journalists, influencers, lawyers

  • Draft messages - templates for press releases, social media posts, interview Q&As, etc.

To draw up a dummy-plan, brainstorm with your PR crisis team. Get feedback from customer-facing teams - support, product, sales, legal, etc. Discuss all possible crises that could hit.

Yes, some are hard to predict, or admit to...

“Our product is perfect in every way. A product recall is never going to happen.”

If you can’t be brutally honest, we may as well stop now.

Some potential crisis situations are easy to predict - mass redundancies, buying out a competitor, a firing at C-level - yikes!

Brainstorming brings benefits...

  • You might discover a potential crisis can be resolved before it hits, by changing an existing process

  • Responses can be written, giving you have a head start if/when a real PR crisis strikes

Image shows - during a PR crisis, a company should listen, identify, review, respond

During PR risk management - listen, identify, review, respond.

Role play

Simulate potential crisis situations and practice, practice, practice your response.

Depending on your industry, some crises are easier to predict. For instance, the food industry would be wise to consider food poisoning, rodent infestation, severed thumb in packaged food.

Okay, that last one is probs not on your list of predictions. But, you see where I’m coming from.

With your list of potential crises, demonstrate how you’ll tackle them. Messaging, media responses, interviews, press releases. Your communication templates can then be customized to fit future crisis situations.

Create holding statement templates

You can’t write messages to deal with a crisis, before it strikes. But, holding statements can be created to cover predicted crises. These will also provide templates that can be adapted to fit unpredicted crises.

For instance, an airline hit by a natural disaster. Without facts, official messages should be restricted. But a holding statement could be issued

“We’ve implemented our crisis response plan, which prioritizes the safety of our passengers and team. Additional details will be posted on our website and social channels as soon as possible.”

Review your holding statements regularly. Update and add new ones, where necessary.

Communication & intelligence analysis

If you want to be alerted to early warning signs of possible PR issues, you have to be listening. Make a list of key things to monitor - your brand, trending topics, key personnel, influencers, hashtags, products, competitors, industry news.

Communication channels

We’ve moved on from sending a fax. Phew!

Today, we’ve got multiple phone numbers and email addresses. We send text and instant messages. Then there’s social media. It’s the fastest and most efficient way to communicate with your audience.

If you’re not using social media as part of your marketing strategy - seriously?!! - you should be. In this day and age, when a crisis strikes it strikes BIG on social. If you’re not there, you've already lost control.

I remind you of my herding kittens reference.

Choose your comms channels before a crisis situation hits. Remember, we use multiple channels. Some people favor email, but not everyone. Maybe a text message, but it might be ignored until later.

Not everyone lives on social media. Multiple, will catch more.

Intelligence gathering

You must monitor what’s being said about you so you can identify - catch a negative trend - and respond. This will include social media, the press, review sites, blog posts, employees, customers, influencers, competitors, etc.

During a crisis, monitoring feedback will help you modify your response strategy. Regular trend analysis would keep you alerted to what consumers are talking about - pain points, preferences, etc. - along with help you understand what's going on with your competitors.

A monitoring system isn’t just for a crisis situation. A good social listening strategy will not only identify negative trends, it will catch positive user-generated content, product feedback, audience sentiment, trending topics, etc. Social data crucial to creating your marketing and communication strategy and messaging.

Identify influencers & brand ambassadors

These guys aren’t only useful for marketing campaigns and product launches, they’re also great for swaying opinion during a crisis. The nature of the crisis will determine which individuals you should approach.

Get the facts before you speak

I know, everyone is panicking. Everyone wants action, answers. You have to remain calm. Follow your crisis procedure. Don’t speak until you have all the facts.

Keep it factual. Never speculate. Always apologize.

Accept responsibility & apologize

Acknowledge your mistake, say sorry, and take responsibility. Make it genuine, sensitive, human. Be honest. Be vulnerable.

Don’t be scared to apologize. It’s the right thing to do and will quickly change the dynamic of the situation.

Always tell the truth

If you hide your mistakes, you’ll be found out. Your brand reputation and value will be damaged. Your brand equity will be reduced.

Be transparent. Consumers buy from companies that they trust. That they believe in.

If you deny a negative situation, dismiss the issue, blame others - you’ll make things so much worse when the truth comes out. And it will.

Tell people what you’re going to do to rectify the situation, and how you’ll avoid it happening again.

Write your PR crisis messages

With all the facts at your fingertips, you can frame your crisis response. Find the most transparent and genuine way to tackle the situation.

What happened. What you’ll do to solve it. What you’ll do in the future. This is where the role of PR in crisis management becomes clear.

Be open, be honest

The sooner you communicate your apology, explanation, and solution, the sooner people will stop trashing your brand.

Don’t make false promises

This will make the situation worse. Always respect the facts. There are people out there that could know more than you do. The media, for instance.

Be reactive

When Starbucks faced a PR crisis - two black men waiting for a business meeting in a Philadelphia branch - the brand acted immediately. All 8,000 US branches were closed for staff training. The CEO published a statement of apology and the social media team addressed online comments.

Fast reaction to a crisis that should never have occurred.


It’s not all about maintaining the value of your stock. Yes, ensuring your business survives is YOUR priority. But for those hit by the crisis - the general public, your employees - less so.

Don’t flood with messages

Three to four is more than enough, and adapt them according to which channel you’re going to post on. For instance, a tweet would contain a link to your website statement.

Provide clarity

People have to understand what's happened and what they need to do. Don’t panic them. Show that you acknowledge that there's a crisis, explain what you’re going to do to avoid future incidents.

Choose your channels of distribution

This will depend on your usual corporate positioning and overall communications. The channels that work best for your brand when talking to your audience - blog, social media, TV, press, etc. Take into account the different characteristics of each.

  • Social media involves conversation - be ready to talk and control your messages

  • Press releases broadcast globally and are readily picked-up by agencies

  • Blog posts give you greater control, plus you’re talking with your company voice

  • Television needs experience, training, and an agreed script - great for talking to a wider audience

Social media is awesome! We have a voice, a loud voice. We can enthuse, complain, discuss, share.

This freedom of expression scares some brands. They’re reticent. They hold back. They ignore.

Unfortunately, consumers don’t care whether brands are there or not. If they’re going to complain, they will.

This means that brands have to monitor and be prepared to jump onboard. Post messages and respond to comments. Have a presence.

Post-crisis review

Monitor. Update. Analyze. Learn.

Your messages are out there. Being read. Being ignored. Being commented on. You need to continue monitoring the situation.

Is the PR crisis still a crisis?

It can take time for things to return to normal. It could also start up again. You have to be ready if asked, to give more statements, interviews, another press release, answers on social.

How’s your brand reputation, following the PR crisis?

Use sentiment analysis to find out how consumers feel about what happened, your response, the current situation.

Getting hit by a PR crisis is devastating. However, every cloud has a silver lining. You’ll learn from the experience. Whether it’s avoiding future crises, tackling issues, improvements to company operations, better products.

After the crisis, answer these questions...

  • How did your team manage the PR crisis situation?
  • What needs to be improved in your crisis plan?
  • What should be changed to avoid it happening again?
  • How will you recover your credibility, repair your reputation?

PR crisis management tools

Your crisis team is on red alert. Your crisis plan is set in stone. Your messaging is ready to go. But... none of this matters if you don't have the best crisis management tools at hand.

When a PR crisis hits - we're all vulnerable - it'll do more than bruise your brand reputation. Potentially, a crisis can be devastating, causing long-term damage, if not total destruction.

You need to choose your crisis tools wisely. Ones that provide the following features - and more - under one roof...

  • Real-time alerts - use Talkwalker Alerts to be notified of negative comments, but for a PR crisis you'll need a more powerful analytics tool - such as Talkwalker.

  • Image recognition - 80% of pictures shared online with a visible brand, don't mention in the content. Our AI-powered image recognition finds these posts so you can protect your logo and trademark against misuse.

  • Video analytics - 80% of all online traffic in 2021 will consist of video. Video marketing drives huge engagement, and marketers say they get 66% more qualified leads per year. While 90% of consumers say that watching a video helps them decide which brand to buy. Our AI-powered visual analytics will find up to 3x the number of brand mentions.

  • Sentiment analysis - or opinion mining, shows you how consumers feel about your brand, product, campaign, or event - positive, negative or neutral. Our sentiment analysis technology captures customer sentiment with up to an average 90% accuracy, understanding the meaning of full sentences, and determining customer attitudes and contextual reactions in tweets, posts, and articles. It even understands sarcasm and irony.

  • Support for multiple languages - the world is talking about your brand. Talkwalker’s conversational intelligence platform supports 187 languages, so you can find where consumers are, how they’re communicating, and what they’re saying.

Talkwalker Alerts | Supercharged Google Alerts

Talkwalker Alerts is a free tool - similar to Google Alerts, but way more efficient - that tracks online mentions and tweets, so you’re notified immediately if any of your keywords or phrases are found.

It'll hunt down negative comments so you can catch them before they go viral and damage your brand reputation. You’ll receive alerts of mentions from news feeds, blogs, forums, and Twitter.

We currently deliver 700,000+ Talkwalker Alerts to 600,000+ inboxes every day.

You can set up an alert in 10 seconds - enter keyword, language, frequency, and result type.

Talkwalker Alerts home page - pr crisis tool

Use Talkwalker Alerts to search for your brand, products, keywords, key personnel, competitors, industry news.

Social media dramatically changed marketing. We’re connected instantly and constantly. When a brand makes a mistake, it goes viral before you can say,

“I should've used social listening.”

Virality Maps | Watch a PR crisis spread

Take a look at Talkwalker's virality map in action...

Virality map demonstrating spread of influencer's article

Talkwalker virality map - how an article about plastic particles in bottled water,
spread across traditional and new media.

As consumers using social media, we expect an instant response to a support question. Personalized messages. We expect brands to listen to the voice of the customer.

With all of us meeting up online, sharing our opinions, complaints, praise, frustrations, the arrival of artificial intelligence was timely.

AI brings the ability to identify, listen, and analyze heaps of social data. This gives brands the power to protect their reputation, manage a crisis, target their communication. Talkwalker’s AI Engine can find patterns in social media communication and identify the sentiment behind it. This data will alert your crisis response team to any oncoming storm, so action can be taken immediately.

Using a conversational intelligence platform will bring a new level of insight enabling you to protect and enhance your brand reputation.

Influencer Network | Find influencers that impact

You’ll even be able to find influencers to champion your cause. Use Talkwalker's Influencer Network feature to identify the right influencers that'll make an impact and support your brand during a PR crisis.

Talkwalker's Influencer Network shows that in January 2021, doctors and medical professionals formed the nucleus influencers supporting the COVID-19 vaccinations.

Talkwalker's Influencer Network shows that in January 2021, doctors and medical professionals formed the bulk of influencers supporting COVID-19 vaccinations.

Video Analytics | Protect your logo

Use Talkwalker's video recognition to find all the videos that include your logo. Even those that don't mention your brand in the content. Find counterfeit products and logo abuse, and protect your reputation.

Starbucks counterfeit product found with visual analytics, preventing a potential PR crisis.

Protect your brand's reputation with visual analytics.

KitKat - video analytics tools - to protect your brand from a PR crisis

Use video recognition to find mentions of your brand being used in a negative way.

Image recognition | Protect your reputation

We’re talking about shared posts that show your product, but don’t name your brand in the content.

Negative content going viral is bad. Negative visual content is even worse. Why? Because content with visuals is 40x more likely to be shared than other types of content.

Image recognition is crucial if you want to identify crisis triggers and protect your brand's reputation. Find them with visual listening...

Image recognition tools from Talkwalker for protecting your brand during a PR crisis

Talkwalker's image recognition feature finds brand mentions, whether the brand is included in the content or not.
Over a 30-day period, the DHL logo was detected close to 10,000 times.

What not to do in a crisis!

Okay, I’ve told you what you should do. Here’s a list of what you should avoid...

Don't be an ostrich

You can’t pretend it’s not happening

Avoid a knee-jerk reaction

  • Pause
  • Take a breath

Don’t attack

  • Don’t react to false rumors about your brand
  • Don’t blame others
  • Don’t respond negatively
  • Put emotions on the back burner


No, no, no. You’re not an actor being hounded by the paparazzi. No comment won’t hold water.

Being unable to answer a question is damning in a PR crisis. It makes you look guilty, unprepared. Often arrogant.

I’m not suggesting you make something up. That’s even worse.

Be honest. Admit you don’t have sufficient information to respond. That you’ll issue an update as soon as possible.

Don't respond too quickly or too slowly

It’s all in the timing.

Don’t give a response before you have all the facts. You’re gonna look pretty stupid if you have to retract earlier statements. Delaying a response will give the impression that you don’t care that much. It’s a fine line.

Don't pick the scab

People move on. Another crisis comes along and suddenly you’re no longer making headlines. Everyday business must continue. You have a brand to market, a product to sell.

Protect your brand with our free PR Crisis eBook

Be prepared. “It won’t happen” is shortsighted, naive, and pure fantasy.

A PR crisis doesn't need to be a disaster. If you're smart, you can even win praise for how you respond, and it can help drive necessary change and improvements to your working methods.

Remember... be ready, respond, reflect.

Download your free copy of our PR Crisis eBook, you’ll learn how to...

  • Minimize the danger of being hit by a PR crisis
  • Create a rapid-response crisis management team of trained personnel
  • Build a crisis communication plan

Plus free crisis management templates. Your crisis communication roadmap, crisis plan checklist, and crisis management tools...

PR crisis ebook