Monday, August 19, 2013

Leading Employees Through a PR Crisis

When your brand is going through a PR crisis, your primary concern is probably making sure you don’t lose your customers’ trust. That’s important, no doubt about it, but there’s another group you need to make sure doesn’t lose faith in your company—your employees.

A PR crisis can be very stressful for your employees. Some may be prone to buckle under the pressure, to abandon ship, or even to attack your company because they’ve lost faith in your cause.

That’s why it’s so important that you’re a strong leader during these tough times. You can’t ignore your team. Without their support, you’ll never come out the other end of this disaster. You need everyone on board to help your company through a crisis. The more hands on deck, the better. Everyone plays a role on some level, even if they aren’t on your crisis response team.

When leading your team during a PR crisis, you must:
Be honest with your employees. It should go without saying, but when things get bad, it’s sometimes natural to withdraw or to conceal the worst. You absolutely cannot lie to your team. If you aren’t transparent and candid with your employees, they will find out and they will hold it against you. You may not be able to share every single detail of what’s going on, but you do need to give your employees information quickly and with honesty.

Manage your own stress. Stress levels are high during trying times, but you have to remember that your employees are looking to you for guidance. If you’re projecting stress and negative behaviors, it will have an impact on your employees. You can’t let your stress or emotions get the best of you. You have to stay calm and be a confident, consistent leader.

Give your employees opportunities to speak. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open during times of crisis. You need to meet with your employees and give them a chance to express their feelings, concerns, suggestions, and other feedback.
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Be organized. Managing your team through a crisis is hard. Hopefully, you already had a crisis response plan in place. Either way, it’s important that you stay organized and productive during these crazy times. This not only helps your company weather the storm, but it also helps you earn the trust of your team by showing them that the situation is under control.

Be clear about objectives. Make sure your employees understand exactly what your objectives are and what their responsibilities are during this time. Everyone needs to know their role, and you need to make sure the directions they’re getting are consistent, not contradictory.
Have you ever had to lead a team through a PR crisis? What tips would you offer? Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this article first appeared.

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