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How to detect PR crises in real time and proactively resolve them

Ashmita Tamta

August 25, 20223 min read

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Every month, nearly half of internet users worldwide post online reviews about a company, product, or service.

Modern consumers scour the internet for reviews before making a purchase. A series of negative reviews on Twitter or Instagram can lead to a public relations (PR) crisis. If not dealt with proactively, your customers can lose interest in your brand. 

So, how do you protect your brand reputation when a crisis hits? Before we take a deep dive into PR crisis management, let’s understand how creating brand awareness turns a prospect into a lifelong customer. 

Several big companies have spent millions of dollars creating brand awareness campaigns and becoming household names. For instance, we use brand names 'Google' and 'Uber' as verbs in our everyday lives. We google today's weather and uber to places. 

“In the digital world, you need to ensure that the customers and clients seamlessly recall a positive experience when they think of your brand.” 

Apple is another excellent example of a brand that has created effective brand awareness campaigns from time to time. When people hear 'Apple,' they often think about the smartphone company, not the fruit! By creating successful marketing campaigns like ‘Think Different,’ the brand has positioned itself as an ‘ingenious’ and ‘innovative’ brand.

An Apple ‘Think Different’ campaign poster featuring Astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Four practical ways to handle a PR crisis

1. Create a PR monitoring framework 

Create an efficient media monitoring team to protect and build your brand image. You can hire a PR firm or create an in-house team. When a PR crisis arises, your PR team should be equipped to handle your customers, partners, and stakeholders. Apart from averting PR crises, your team should also focus on creating a PR monitoring framework — aided by modern technology.

Best practices to create a PR monitoring framework

  • Monitor social media
    Leverage modern technologies to keep an eye on social media accounts to detect unusual activities. Modern social media monitoring tools can analyze data, recognize patterns, and quickly spot a potential crisis.

  • Train customer-facing employees
    Prevention is better than cure. A PR crisis hits unexpectedly and leaves a company high and dry. Ensure your customer-facing employees undergo effective communication and media training to prevent this. Also, strongly advise them against posting or promoting content that might harm your brand image. 

  • Remove the stigma associated with the product
    Understand the product/service and how it helps consumers. Be crystal clear in communicating its unique selling proposition (USP) and benefits, eliminating any room for rumors and building customer trust.

  • Analyze influencer media activities
    Keep tabs on the social media accounts of influencers and the brand ambassador promoting your brand. They should not be embroiled in controversies as it can put you in a vulnerable position.

  • Communicate with your clients
    If you are a PR agency, interact with your client to understand the types, intensity, and causes of the crises they have encountered in the past. Be on the lookout for similar events that may trigger another PR fiasco.

  • Enhance brand image
    Create content that aligns with the company’s goals and objectives and establishes a powerful and positive brand image. This forms a loyal customer base that truly understands your brand and its vision.

2. Detect PR crises at an early stage

“A PR crisis can spread like wildfire and ruin the brand image in just an hour. Although, most brands need 21 hours to respond to the crisis.” 

Like many top brands, use technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to spot PR crises early. 

For instance, as a beverage brand, you can analyze media trends and set up alerts for a specific location, hashtags, or crisis buzzwords such as ‘obesity’ and ‘tooth decay’. Your PR team will receive instant alerts as soon as there is a spike in mentions of the selected topics.

Brands worldwide are using AI to proactively detect and resolve PR crises. Their PR teams: 

  • Monitor sudden changes or anomalies in online activity at the earliest stage.

  • Set up alerts for keywords that are generating social buzz. 

  • Get a 360° view of local, regional, and global customer interactions.

  • Analyze competitors’ marketing and PR strategies (for instance, their top-performing posts). 

  • Detect the intent of customer reviews and act accordingly. 

  • Find negative reviews and ensure that they respond quickly.

AI tool detects intent as customer support and routes to care agents.

3. Notify the right team

Over half of the organizations (54.2 percent) cite communicating with staff as a key challenge during an emergency. If a PR crisis explodes, your team needs to be immediately notified. Use AI-powered crisis detection tools that notify your PR and marketing team through email and mobile apps.

4. Engage with your customers 

How to regain your customer’s trust after a PR fiasco? By engaging and responding to their complaints — effectively and immediately — across all channels. Technologies like AI and machine learning let you interact with your customers at scale and in real-time. 

Assess customer sentiment across channels and track and resolve customer issues as soon as possible.

Conclusion

One enraged customer on social media can cost you your precious reputation, revenue, and time. As a PR manager, you can design effective PR strategies, prevent crises, and protect your brand reputation by leveraging AI and automation tools. Ensure the right stakeholders are notified at the right time. Monitor media platforms regularly, especially for negative mentions and comments.

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