Crisis PR can be mastered at our seminars, UralBusinessConsulting says

A round table discussion on crisis management through public relations was coordinated in Yekaterinburg by the local division of Russia’s Corporate Media Association, OPTIMA COMMUNICATION, Mayor’s Library, and UralBusinessConsulting Agency of Information and Analytics. The discussion was moderated by UralBusinessConsulting’s General Director, economic and political PR consultant, and Russian PR Association Fellow Evgeniy Potapov.

In his opening address, Evgeniy Potapov said there were no clear-cut and generally accepted crisis PR theories at the moment, so people involved in the field just learned to apply their practical experience in accordance with the specificity of cases. If the case happens to be extraordinary, new schemes have to be invented. UralBusinessConsulting, for one, is using the schemes and methods that have proved efficient for over eight years of the agency’s performance.

The agenda of the meeting covered issues related to the IT appropriate for crisis PR, the choice of the right strategy, PR campaigns suitable for resisting hostile takeover attempts, raider attacks, and intra-corporate clashes, communicating with the media in the times of a crisis, and reacting to and counterbalancing negative publicity targeted against a business.

Evgeniy Potapov reported crisis public relations management was rather costly, which was why the company’s top executives were often unwilling to adequately react to a crisis, hoping things would get back to normal on their own, without large-scale spending. However, reacting to a crisis was essential, the expert felt.

Alfa Bank’s regional PR Director Evgeniy Vladykin said businesses were not always prepared to use the power of the media, advertise themselves, and support their reputation.

The discussion participants also spoke about the ways of identifying the causes of a crisis.

‘First of all, one has to look at the media publications. If blackening articles and negative news keep building up and even come from the sources that have never before been interested in the company’s activity, chances are, this is their rivals’ job,’ Evgeniy Vladykin explained. His opinion was further supported by Maxi Group’s press officer Denis Gramatchikov.

As far as reacting to a crisis was concerned, Evgeniy Potapov noted it was the head of the company who normally was the first to detect the problem:

‘The proprietor and the director is the best PR expert in any company: they can see what no hired employee will notice,’ he said.

‘A PR department worker is supposed to come up with a good quality report on the problem, while the proprietor, who set up the company and invested in it, must be the one to make the decision. It would be unwise to delegate problem-solving to hired personnel. The PR Department may provide advice but not do the decision-making,’ said AVS-Group’s Vice President for Public Relations Andrei Stankevitch.

‘No business is safe from redistribution attempts, like raiding attacks, for example, which is why any PR expert should realize that crisis public relations management is the second most important thing after meeting the company’s business development needs. At the time of a crisis, a company’s PR Department must stop the deluge of negative publicity at least for some period of time and give the management a chance to understand what is going on and take the necessary decisions,’ Evgeniy Potapov said.

‘Quick and clever decision-making under pressure is a rather unique skill, so having some time to think through a defense strategy is a must, given especially that defense is normally two to five times more expensive than offense. It is essential for a PR expert to make the right decision, which depends on the scale of the expert’s experience. This is why inviting a special crisis PR management agency is often the only way out,’ he added. He also explained that crisis PR management skills just cannot be picked up at schools or colleges:

‘This expertise is acquired through many years of personal experience and not through books. One of the ways to learn more about crisis PR management is the seminars we offer that have a good deal of experience-sharing,’ the expert noted.

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