By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications
This article first appeared in the National Law Journal
Over the last 20 years, we’ve learned five great lessons about crisis communications:
Another thing we’ve noticed, especially over the last few years, is the sheer number of PR firms now claiming to offer crisis communications services. If a PR agency is already selling marketing plans, new product launches, social media management, brand building, employee engagement, investor relations and digital marketing, it’s a simple matter to add “crisis communications” as an agency specialty without having truly experienced professionals on staff to deliver that service.
The business model for most public relations firms is similar to that of law, accounting and architecture firms. The senior people bring the work in and push it down to less-experienced (and lower-paid) junior people. (By the way, that’s not the model you want when you’re facing a make-or-break crisis.) Certainly, there are exceptions to this. The largest PR firms in the country have dedicated crisis comm units dealing with a steady stream of crisis situations, continually honing their expertise. But for most PR firms, real crisis work is usually a very small percentage of their total billable hours. That means there’s little opportunity for the team to build the expertise crisis situations require.
So, if every PR firm claims to offer crisis communications, how do you make sure the firm you’re calling isn’t overstating its abilities? One place to start is with these seven questions:
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