If I asked you, ‘what’s the biggest sports scandal/public relations disaster you can think of’, I’m sure I would get a wide range of answers.
I’m sure many would point to the on-going sexual assault scandal at Baylor University. Other might point to the NFL denying for years that concussions from football link to CTE, or even the problems faced by Olympians and journalist at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Whatever sports scandal you can think of, there is always some sort of crisis management going on behind the scenes to deal with these type of issues.
Of course, there are some crises that are handled better than others, so its important that sports PR teams handle these situations in a way that the team maintains a positive image with the public and the media.
Here are some steps that can help effectively manage a crisis situations:
Develop a Plan
This is one of the most important steps for crisis management, regardless if you’re working in sports PR, or any other business PR. Try to develop a plan for most crisis situations imaginable and make sure everyone in the organization is familiar with the plan. This should include assigning a designated spokesperson and having a communication plan to keep the leaders of the organization informed.
Even though you and your team is going through a scandal, this doesn’t mean your relationships with media personnel should change. You need to continue to be upfront with the media because hiding in times of crisis will negatively effect your relationships with the media and your reputation.
Gauge the Temperature
In times of crisis, you need get an understanding of the public’s perception of your organization. A quick look through Twitter or Facebook can be a good way to get a feel of your organizations perception. Also having a trusted media source can help you get information on what people are saying and what new information is coming out. Getting tips on new information shows why you need to maintain your relationships with media personnel during a crisis.
It’s understandable that dealing with crisis management is very stressful, but the worst thing you can do as a PR professional is panic or become unhinged. It’s important to note that what resonates with people is not what you say, it’s how you say it. So if the people within the organization or the media see you stressed out, they’ll pick up on it. Having composure will help you make critical decisions during stressful times.
Ask the Right Questions
In a crisis situation, it’s important to know that you don’t need to know all of the information. In this case, it is sometimes better to not knowing some information and being vague with the media than to lie. This will not always be the case where you don’t know certain pieces of information, but lying about information will only hurt the reputation of you and the organization.