May 28, 2013
4 Tips on Preparing a Good PR Response
It’s critical for public figures to acquire a top PR agency, such as 5WPR, when faced with negative media such as being accused of using illicit drugs. It’s much worse when someone posts an Internet video of that public figure allegedly smoking crack cocaine. But that was exactly the accusation leveled at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford recently.
While this is certainly an extreme example of how not to handle crisis PR after a scandal, Ronn Torossian says it is also a chance to reiterate the right way to face an unfortunate situation.
#1 – Stick with what you can prove
Initially, Ford was irate that anyone would make the accusation, much less post it on the web. And while his initial response was far from perfect, he did get one thing right. He made a direct statement that cannot be disproven: “I am not an addict.” The media asked if the video was true and if the accusation was accurate. Ford was reluctant to respond, denying that he currently smokes crack. Lacking evidence, the media can do nothing with these answers to further tarnish Ford. Top PR agencies in NYC specialize in constructing messages to keep the media away.
#2 – Make the media your ally
From there, the mayor makes a fatal public relations mistake. He attacked the media. Instead of attempting to honestly answer questions without further incriminating himself, Ford decided to criticize the media for, in effect, doing their job. This is rarely – if ever – a winning PR move. The media gets paid to ask questions and report information. Trying to shame them into stopping this is pointless. A much better tactic used by top PR agencies, such as 5WPR, is to attempt to craft a response that gives the media what it is looking for without bringing further incrimination. Ford started to do this, but felt pushed too far and lost the plot. He even went so far as to accuse the Toronto Star of being “out to get him.” Well, if it wasn’t before, it likely was now. It is NEVER a good idea to paint a target on your chest and dare the media to start shooting.
#3 – Don’t attack the messenger
In a related point, it is rarely a winning PR approach to get hostile with those seeking the truth. Sure, you may be tired of answering questions, and, yes, you may be growing frustrated. Still, it is much better to simply say, “No more questions.” Then walk away after having made a brief statement. Flip out on a reporter and it will be up on the ‘net before you can get back to your car.
#4 – Control the conversation
This is the big one. Sure, you cannot control the speculation, but that is not what we are talking about here. The “conversation” in this sense is simply the narrative. This is what you must control if you are going to manage a successful PR speed bump. Even when the PR is positive, it is much better to have your team in the driver’s seat.
Ronn Torossian reminds us that it is just as simple – maybe not as easy, but as simple – to offer a positive response to a negative situation. You simply need the best PR agency by your side.