Issue & Crisis Management

Knights MPR is industry’s front-of-mind solutions provider for preparing, protecting and defending brands and organisations.

We safeguard the reputation of our clients by deploying meticulous preparation, bespoke training and perfectly pitched responses to a wide range of audiences, and issues. Our experts are one of the highly respected and best resourced in the industry.

The CEO, Jason Knights, has himself been involved in several crisis management and response situations including Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico and with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear incident in Japan.

We have experience of operating at the most senior levels of crisis management. Our global reach means we have the breadth and depth of experience to support our clients in responding to issues both locally and across the world when they arise.

Do you need an immediate short-term plan to deal with a problem and a long-term communications strategy to rebuild your profile?

Any business, at one point, will face some sort of a public relations crisis and the way you respond can either give you a much-needed image boost or significantly damage your brand, ultimately alienating your customer base and business partners. Today, when news goes viral instantly organisations need to be ready to respond to any PR crisis quickly and efficiently, using all available platforms.

We deploy a suite of specialised tactics to help defuse crisis, mitigate further risks, and create positive media narrative.

Are you prepared for a crisis?

It takes a lifetime to build your reputation but it can be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Make sure your business is crisis ready.

All smart businesses plan ahead and crisis management is no different; prevention is better than cure.
Fully auditing the risks of a potential media crisis and having a plan in place should the worst happen is critical. We can build a proactive plan, as well as training your key spokespeople to handle difficult questions from the media.

Q&A Guidance & Support on Managing a Crisis

We’re amidst a PR crisis and we need help NOW! Should I say “no comment” on the phone?

No, ask a colleague to take a message and the full details of the enquiry and form a plan of action. Get the facts, do not be rushed into saying anything, even “no comment” which will often be taken as confirmation that the story is true.

What should I tell our frontline employees to do/say in the event they are confronted about this?

You should tell your colleagues to remain calm and explain they are not dealing with press/media enquiries but can take a message if required. It’s about going through the correct channels, which most journalists will respect.

How long will it take to clean up this issue?

It very much depends on the situation and how it is handled from minute one. Reacting in the correct way, with a calm, measured and professional response, and taking into account all factors, is the approach to adopt. Many crises are prolonged by leaping into the situation. An important factor in the PR process is knowing when to start getting on the front foot.

Do you offer crisis management for social media?

Yes, this is a vital component of our crisis service for you. We offer high-tech monitoring and response as part of our service.

Is it possible to remove offending blog posts online?

Very often the answer is yes – but each case is different and it depends on which rules/laws are being infringed upon. It is about knowing these rules and knowing who to contact in light of a potential breach.

Can you help us shape a crisis communications plan?

Dealing with the crisis should be first on the list of action. But often, both can be considered to operate at the same time.

Can and/or should I take legal action against those responsible?

After hearing of your requirements and possible scenarios, Knights MPR can help draft, shape and finalise the crisis communications plan.

Our 11 Golden Rules of PR Crisis & Response Management.

1. Take responsibility

First off, don’t try to cover up the PR crisis, it will only worsen the situation and potential damage to your brand. Instead, manage the situation by taking responsibility, reacting immediately, and responding to feedback. Instead of arguing publicly, acknowledge people’s concerns and questions and respond to the right conversations. Write a press release and post on social media to control the situation and get the message visible.

2. Be proactive, be transparent, be accountable

In today’s real-time world of social media, and with critics everywhere, reputation management matters more than ever and it can be lost in an instant. The key is to be proactive, be transparent, and be accountable. When put into action it looks like this: acknowledge the incident, accept responsibility, and apologise.

3. Get ahead of the story

Figuring out the fine points of your strategy is critical – and you can do that over the weekend. But start communicating, apologizing, refunding, or whatever is necessary, and now!

4. Be ready for social media backlash

The worst thing companies can do is ignore the possibility that a firestorm could ignite on social media. Smaller organisations can be more guilty of this, and especially those that are not active on social media. Just because a company is not marketing on social does not mean their customers won’t put them in check on those platforms when something goes wrong. Have a plan and review it often.

5. Remember to be human

Saying “you’ll look into it” doesn’t make anyone feel better. This is where it is important to have what we term a Human-2-Human approach in your communications. Saying you’re deeply saddened by what went down and will work on making things better is important. Extending a heartfelt apology is key to moving forward. Not doing so adds fuel to the fire. Following a public apology, the company must offer a call to action. They must do something substantial to show that they are changing their ways moving forward. Share how policies will be put in place so it doesn’t happen again. Act fast before consumers, your customers or industry lose faith in your brand.

6. Monitor, plan and communicate

Have your social team on high alert, with monitoring at the forefront. If they start noticing spikes of negativity or increased activity, utilize an already well-versed crisis plan to proactively respond on social with prepared materials. Never let executives go rogue and potentially fuel the flames, but do encourage them to engage with predetermined and approved key messages.

7. Listen to your team

It’s too easy to be reactive, especially when your company’s brand and reputation are at stake. Don’t comment, post or tweet before you’ve conferred with your PR team on what the best, most reasoned approach will be. If you have a great team (and you should!), they will be on top of this and will have crafted language you can use immediately.

8. Develop robust organisational brand culture

Prevent the crisis. It’s easy to blame frontline employees for recurring issues, but they’re not responsible for the toxic brand culture that breeds them. An organisational brand culture that treats customers badly is likely to treat its employees poorly too. Dig deep into organisational culture and service delivery and you’ll find that new lows in brand experience always start at the very top.

9. Turn off the fan

When the you-know-what hits the fan, the first rule of crisis management is to turn off the fan. Step back, put yourself in the consumers’ shoes and ask, “How would I feel if this happened to me?” Looking in the mirror is the best PR advice there is when dealing with crisis situations. It ensures we do the right thing. And doing the right thing beats PR ‘spin’ every time.

10. Avoid knee-jerk reactions

Companies, brand representatives or influencers often provide emotional, frenzied responses. Freeze all external communication until you can assess what’s going on. Be sure that the first external communication following the crisis is a well-thought-out response that resonates with your consumers, customers and industry.

11. Always be prepared

No one wants to be at the centre of a scandal so anticipate potential crisis scenarios and establish protocols for handling them. Before a crisis hits, outline who needs to be notified, your internal review process and the individuals who are authorised to speak publicly on your behalf.