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Public relations is considered to be one of the most important tools used by public and private sector organizations to manage their interactions and relations with stakeholders. There is great value in developing a practical strategy to build a positive image of a company or organization, enhancing its reputation, improving communication with customers, investors, stakeholders, and employees, and expanding its external reach. Public relations rely on various activities and tools aimed at achieving these objectives. One of these activities is crisis management, which is crucial for improving reputation, delivering intended messages to the public, enhancing credibility, and dealing with any type of crisis that an institution or company may face, whether it is social, economic, environmental or even political in nature.

In this context, the role of media and public relations consultants is essential and highly important in crisis management. They play a crucial role in how an organization deals with any crisis situation. They are responsible for preparing detailed crisis management plans before they occur, identifying key messages that need to be delivered to the public and the media. They also take responsibility for communicating with the media and the public, directing the appropriate messages to them, whether through traditional or digital media platforms, which have recently played a significant role in upscaling reach and democratizing access to information.

In the event of a crisis, media and public relations advisors guide institutions and companies on how to handle the current situation and ensure that the messages being communicated project and protect the organization’s brand in the best possible way.

The role of PR specialists in crisis management is crucial because they help minimize the damages that a crisis can have on the reputation and image of the institution. With the right training, they easily take on crisis management quickly and effectively, assessing the situation at hand and making the right decisions. There is no room for error in dealing with crises, and it is worth mentioning that preparing ahead requires the specialist to think about several crisis scenarios and ready the institution for the possibility of any of them occurring.

Crisis management in public relations involves several steps and stages, including:

Analysis and evaluation: This requires analyzing the situation, evaluating the evolving crisis, and identifying factors that may affect the institution’s reputation. It includes risk analysis and identifying the strengths and weaknesses in the organizational structure of the institution.

Crisis strategy development: Based on the analysis and evaluation, a strategy is developed to deal with the crisis. This includes identifying key messages and appropriate communication channels to reach the target audience.

Communication and media: The communication strategy is implemented to disseminate accurate information and manage communication with the media and the target audience. This includes preparing press releases, interacting with the media, and engaging with the audience through various communication channels.

Rapid response: Quick response plans must be prepared to address potential crises, and it is also important to ensure the availability of necessary resources and utilize them in appropriate places and at the right time.

Evaluation and learning: After the crisis is over, the process needs to be evaluated in its entirety, performance analyzed, and strengths and weaknesses identified.

Learnings from the crisis are used to improve the organization’s preparedness for dealing with future crises of any sort.

  • Building an internal, specialized and multidisciplinary team to work on implementing these strategies, determining tasks and responsibilities for team members, and ensuring their collaboration and coordination.
  • Conducting risk assessment: It is necessary to start by assessing potential risks, analyzing the conditions and situations that may lead to crises, and identifying the potential factors that should be focused on to avoid potential crises.
  • Launching an awareness campaign: It is important to launch an awareness campaign for the community about the importance of crisis preparedness and how to deal with it, and to encourage community participation in crisis planning and preparedness.
  • Training employees: Employees should be trained and provided the needed skills for crisis management and effective response and increasing awareness of potential risks and how to deal with them.
  • Utilizing technology and innovations: Research should be conducted on available technology and innovations that can be used to improve the ability to predict crises and enhance effective crisis response and management if they occur.

Finally, it can be said that media and public relations advisors help effectively manage crises and turn them into opportunities to develop and enhance the organization’s image and improve its relationship with the public, ensuring that it will succeed in maintaining its position and credibility in the market. This is what Djembe Consultants has been committed to doing with its clients in Africa and the Middle East and has succeeded in leveraging recent crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic to maintain and even enhance clients’ brand appeal. Stories can be told even in the midst of crises and Djembe Consultants has the knowhow to help purpose-driven organizations do exactly that.

Raghad Sabouni

Account Director

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