The Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the Manship School of Mass Communication, Andrea Miller, came to speak with our class on October 16th. Miller gave very good tips on managing crises in the PR world coming from a strong background and experience with crises.
While Miller now works for LSU, she used to be a producer in Dallas/FW where she discovered her draw for managing crisis’s after a local church shooting. Miller defined a “PR crisis” to the class:
Crisis in Public Relations – A negative situation (either expected or unexpected) that if left unattended could disrupt the everyday operations/routine of a business, organization or individual.
Stages of a PR crisis –
1. Detection (prodromes) – A crisis happening to a business or group similar to your own
2. Prevention/Preparation – Doing what you can to get ahead of what the crisis may be
As a journalist, there are steps that you take to cover the crisis at hand. Miller defines a journalism crisis as well:
Crisis in Journalism – A negative events (expected or unexpected) that interrupts that daily routine and demands additional time, attention, and resources to gather information.
Stages of a Crisis – Press
2. Describing the Event
3. Making sense, giving perspective, correcting, analyzing
4. Preparing audiences to cope with the after effects
Visuals play a big role in crises as well. In her pressentaiton, Miller explained the visuals you always go to in your head when picturing a crisis, these are referred to as conventional imagery. A shooting – caution tape. Hurricane Katrina – people on roof tops. The BP oil spill – oily birds and fish. In order to stand out at an outlet for coverage you should try to escape these conventioal images and set yourself apart with up to date and accurate photographs.
Any PR professional should be on top of their game when a crisis occurs, and they could occur at any moment!