There are two main types of PR disasters: the expected and the unexpected. To bounce back from a political PR mistake takes three principles – speed, transparency and personal accountability. Our experienced Las Vegas political marketing firm offers 3 tips on how to deal with a PR blunder.
As with many things in life, the best defense is a good offense, so being proactive is key. No matter what the disaster, getting out in front of what’s going on and seizing control of the issue is most important. In other words, don’t let the issue drive the news, don’t let it define you and put you on the defensive. If you hope to maintain the public’s confidence and keep their trust, it’s crucial you’re perceived as sincere. Being upfront will accomplish that.
1. Make it Quick
With all the possible PR mistakes that can be made, it helps to have a plan ahead of time that spells out how to deal with the most common ones. An experienced Las Vegas political marketing firm can help you identify potential PR disasters based on previous campaigns and experience. After a PR mistake occurs, your best strategy is to be quick to acknowledge it. Today, due to the speed of social media, waiting even an hour or two can see a simple mistake turn into a reputation-damaging disaster.
2. Be Transparent
Nothing breeds speculation like silence. From the moment the mistake is made, make the effort to be as transparent as possible. Complete openness means being available to honestly answer any questions the public and/or the press have. Don’t let journalists define your story – or have voters spread assumptions and gossip. It’s perfectly acceptable to say something along the lines of “I don’t know at this time,” but refusing to respond never looks good.
Don’t look or be uncooperative, or as if you have something to hide. Once people start saying you were unavailable for comment you’ll have to work twice as hard to win back their belief in your credibility. Ultimately it is about retaining people’s trust. If you don’t have their trust, you don’t have anything.
3. Accept Responsibility
The absolute worst thing you can do is run or hide from the truth. Your team should quickly assess the nature of the PR mistake. Deceptive behavior only compounds the initial misstep and further harms your reputation. Instead, present yourself as a responsible and rational person by making a sincere apology, when appropriate, acknowledging the mistake you’ve made. Don’t blame someone or something else. Keep in mind “the buck stops here.”
Self-criticism can be used effectively to convey to the public you understand and regret the mistake. Then it’s time to move on.