In the wake of the #LochteMess that arose during the 2016 Olympics, it is important for PR professionals to take the time to reflect on their crisis communications plan. WWWD. What Would We Do? In the unfortunate event that a client of yours gets into a sticky situation, the person to go to is you, the expert in public relations. This is what you do. This is your profession. Now, we just have to pass that information along to clients in the event that they find themselves in a difficult situation.
Most of us are familiar with the catchy commercial that states, “After 911, call 411.” In the event of a legal situation, 911 is the lawyer and 411 should be the PR professional. Using Lochte as an example, he finds himself in a mess with the law. Obviously, the first person he should call to resolve the issue is his lawyer. But he is also in the spotlight, which means he has more to worry about than his legal matters, he has a reputation to maintain too.
I’m sure many of us in the World of Public Relations has dealt with a client or two where they decide to make a public statement first and ask for your help second. In this scenario, the client ends up finding themselves in a bigger hole than what they had started with, expecting their PR specialist to save the day. What these clients, unfortunately, don’t realize is that the damage is done. The mess is made. They made their bed and now have to li–Well, you get the point.
The one thing we can do as communications professionals is to take the time and go over crisis communication plans with clients prior to a public relations disaster. It is better to let them know ahead of time that you are the one they should go to first, before they rely on themselves. That is what we are all here for, and our knowledge and expertise should be utilized.