Navigating the Inescapable
Best Practices for Crisis Communications
I once had a sports icon for a client. Historically, he has been regarded as one of America’s top athletes.
Unfortunately, this particular icon was publicly ousted for illegal actions and consequently stripped of multiple national and international titles. So we partnered with him to prepare a coordinated, multi-faceted strategy to help and repair his reputation.
We advised and worked with the athlete and his team to: admit fault, work towards solutions, and mend his incredibly tarnished reputation. We pivoted the message to the positive and philanthropic work this client had dedicated himself to, and over time we were able to diminish the negativity surrounding this individual and focus on all of the good he’s put forth in the world.
Doing three things worked well:
1. Positive interaction and engagement with fans
2. Heartfelt messages to audiences in the philanthropic space
3. Humanizing the athlete
We all mess up, and sometimes (OK, most times), those mistakes can be detrimental to our careers.
Here to Help
I’m Sara Croom and I’m here to help. I recently joined Everest Communications and come with a background (and the scars to prove it) in public affairs, reputation management, and crisis communications. I could not be prouder to join such an intelligent, savvy, and strategic group of thought-leaders.
At Everest, we take a highly calculated, digital-first approach to communications strategies.
No matter what, when the stakes are high, we provide excellence and value on campaigns spanning from financiers to national sports leagues to high-profile universities.
Everest takes the Sherpa approach to ensure a concise, coherent direction every step of the way. We help navigate the inescapable.
To help you get started, I’m sharing some four key practices for any crisis communications situation below.
For over a decade, Sara Croom has worked as a public relations and public affairs professional. She has helped manage multiple corporate and issue advocacy crisis communication efforts, both nationally and internationally, including projects within the cable news, hedge fund, banking, philanthropy, trade, intellectual property, and national sports industries.
4 Key Practices for Crisis Communication
These key practices are undoubtedly a humbling process but are a reliable path to begin reputation repair. Blood, sweat, and tears will go into a crisis communication effort, but we will get through it together, and at the end of the day, you will be stronger and better for it.
Key #1: Admit Fault
A key component to any crisis communication or reputation management situation is to admit your fault – but only when merited, of course. Mistakes are hard to admit, but, once admitted, one clears the air, one becomes humbler, and we create a strategy to mitigate and navigate your path forward.
Key #2: Time
Right now, time is your only ally, but don’t waste it. It takes time and a solid team to create the absolute right set of tactics to move forward in a positive direction. Take time to think strategically, then act quickly, being efficient and precise.
Key #3: Messaging
Create the right messaging to cater specifically to your audience. Be intentional, coherent, and concise. You’re under a microscope, so we have to be thoughtful communicators and steer the narrative. The situation I outlined above is a perfect example of catering to the right audience at the right time. Our sports icon needed to cater to a very specific group of people, with deliberate and purposeful messages. Once we did that, engagement was through the roof, and the sentiment was positive.
Key #4: Repair Reputation
Repair your reputation online and offline. It’s vital to create positive content and pivot to key and critical messages to repair a tarnished reputation. Continue to be humble, open, and honest, and let your experience work for you.