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Why crisis management and brand reputation will define the PR-scape in 2018

Posted on 19/12/2017 by Rhiannon Smith in Cole Lawson whatsnew issues and crisis management 2017
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The effect of a hyper-vigilant traditional media, and an engaged public who can live stream at the touch of a button, will continue to ring alarm bells for public relations professionals in 2018.

This year has been full of reputational crises: Pepsi and Kendall Jenner’s disastrous advertisement, United Airlines’ highly publicised removal of a passenger and Cosmopolitan’s vulgar celebration of weight loss caused by cancer, to name a few. The effect of a hyper-vigilant traditional media, and an engaged public who can live stream at the touch of a button, will continue to ring alarm bells for public relations professionals in 2018.

It is undeniable that we are operating in a rapidly changing global society; with the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements shining light into the darker sides of civilisation and evoking a desire for action from individuals and large corporations alike. The urge for brands to express a socially desirable message is mounting, and in 2018 public relations professionals will need to be wary of the fine line between authentic, socially positive messages, and inauthentic fake messages that consumers happily make a mockery of throughout social media. The damage done by shallow messaging can be devastating and difficult to resolve, as was the case with the hollow ‘world-peace’ themed campaign between Pepsi and Kendall Jenner.

Consumers are now bypassing traditional complaints sections to take their concerns immediately into the public Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube sphere. From there, they go viral amongst different demographics and the communication team must work hard to rein in the mounting outrage.

This perfect breeding ground for reputational damage will make crisis management skills a necessity for any organisation wishing to make it through 2018 with as minimal scrapes and cuts as possible. Public relations professionals who specialise in crisis management will be sought after in 2018, and it is quickly becoming a trend to keep an agency ‘on the books’ for when a crisis eventuates.

The three most important factors an organisation considers when hiring a crisis specialist are:

  • Availability. A crisis can occur at any time of the day or night. A crisis specialist, or their staff, must be available to answer the phone at any given moment.
  • Knowledge. A workplace in crisis needs a professional who understands the organisations values, mission and operations, and can communicate these effectively.
  • Flexibility. A crisis can quickly evolve and change, a crisis specialist must be prepared to adjust messaging and tactics in-line with how media and stakeholders are reacting.
Cole Lawson Communications is proud to employ several crisis specialists. If you want your organisation to come through a crisis with the upper-hand, contact us today to find out how we can assist.