An undeniable reality of today is that we are deeply interconnected.
Through the news and social media, it doesn’t take much for information to spread. This means that both good news and bad news quickly go viral, and if companies are not prepared to manage this sudden onslaught, they’re effectively letting the public decide their fate. Many people refer to situations like this as being “canceled.”
Fortunately, companies that are prepared with solid public relations and content marketing strategies can leverage various channels to alleviate the issue and help restore public trust. Depending on the circumstances, these channels may include:
- Social media
- Inbound communications
- Outbound communications
- The media
Building a public relations content strategy that can help you weather any storm requires ongoing effort. Let’s explore how your company can create a content strategy that boosts public trust and offers protection against negative public relations situations whenever they may arise.
What is public relations vs. content marketing?
First, let’s cover the difference between public relations and content marketing. Most people assume they are two different departments, but in truth, they have a lot of similarities.
Content marketing is any type of content created to attract your desired audience. This content has a vast range but could include any of the following:
- Social media posts
- Case studies
Regardless of the content’s format, it should all be relevant and valuable to your chosen audience.
Like content marketing, public relations strategies are designed to create a more meaningful engagement with stakeholders. Typically, the types of strategies and content used to do this include:
- Press releases
- Speaking engagements
- Social media
Ultimately, the goal of both public relations and content marketing is to shape the public perception of your organization in a positive way. While PR and content marketing teams may use different forms of content to accomplish this goal, they are both striving to encourage a better public perception of your organization. In turn, this will benefit sales and help your company grow.
What are examples of a PR crisis we can learn from?
Over the past few years, there have been many different examples of PR crises in the news. Learning about these situations can help us see how content was used to handle the influx of negative attention and eventually transition into an opportunity for growth.
Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial
In 2017, PepsiCo put out a new commercial campaign that starred Kendall Jenner as a protestor who makes a connection with a police officer by offering him a can of Pepsi. The backlash against this commercial was immediately negative. Activists accused PepsiCo of appropriating and trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement to sell their product, and there was an influx of negative mentions across social and news media.
In response to the crisis, PepsiCo immediately launched a statement across their social media profiles, admitting their mistake and being transparent about their attempts to fix it. They also reached out privately to certain well-known figures who had tweeted their opposition, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest daughter Bernice King.
Ultimately, this crisis was a great example of how the same issues can plague both PR and content campaigns. PepsiCo failed to evaluate its audience effectively and, as a result, chose both the wrong influencer and the wrong message.
Zion Williamson Nike incident
In 2019, a highly anticipated basketball match between Duke University and the University of North Carolina began with a bang as less than one minute into the game, star forward Zion Williamson broke through his Nike shoe. The incident was a catastrophic example of a Nike shoe failing spectacularly, resulting in injuries that kept Williamson benched for a month.
Nike’s stock dropped 1.8% immediately following such a public failure of its product. To alleviate the negative publicity, Nike’s crisis team reached out to Zion Williamson in a public statement and immediately began investigating the incident. They took full responsibility and made their efforts to remedy the issue public. Soon, Williamson was showing off a new pair of shoes that Nike had custom-made for him.
This clear support for Williamson and public acceptance of responsibility made a huge difference in Nike’s PR response and were central in helping it blow over quickly.
What is PR crisis management?
Both PR and content marketing can be used to support an organization’s thought leadership and enhance the company’s brand. However, in the examples we discussed above, it’s easy to see just how closely these teams must collaborate during a PR crisis. The strategy created to handle these PR crises is known as PR crisis management.
The best PR crisis management occurs when an organization’s content team can support the PR crisis team as they work to craft a strategy that can address the negative situation. However, this collaboration should not begin at the advent of the crisis.
How content can help with crisis management
There are many situations, both during a PR crisis and before one occurs, where content can help alleviate negative publicity. Here are a few tips and tricks for using content as part of a forward-thinking crisis management campaign.
Develop a social media content strategy
Most of us turn to social media to learn about the latest news. For this reason, organizations should prioritize social media content as part of their PR plan for a crisis. Whether you put out a statement on Twitter, post on Instagram, or create a message on Facebook, your social media response should be swift, thoughtful, and transparent.
Draft a message to stakeholders
In addition to making public comments through social media posts, companies should consider addressing their stakeholders through more intimate methods like email. Your content team can help craft a message that thoughtfully addresses the situation and helps alleviate their concerns.
Build relationships with influencers
Influencer marketing is a valuable tool for marketers looking to promote their content and build brand awareness. Influencers can also help in a crisis by expanding the reach of your statements and content, making it easier to get your message to a broader audience.
Keep your content strategy going strong
Many businesses are tempted to lay low following a crisis. This is the opposite of what should happen! Instead, take this opportunity to prove to the public that you do have valuable content to offer. By starting to turn the conversation toward more favorable topics, this content helps to regain trust and move the conversation forward.
Explore the benefits of PR crisis management content with ClearVoice
Organizations should never start preparing for a crisis when it is occurring. The best PR crisis management strategies begin well before an incident occurs and are supported by a wealth of content from individuals and teams that understand your organization and its goals.
Reach out to us today to learn how the experts at ClearVoice can use content to help prepare your organization for any situation it may face.