Most UAE companies are likely to go through a PR crisis at some point, whether it be because a disgruntled employee has posted negative comments on social media or because an unhappy customer decided to vent on Youtube. Hiring a good UAE PR agency is likely to spare you the potentially catastrophic consequences of bad PR moves. With or without the services of professionals, you can still look out for your company’s reputation by avoiding some major PR mistakes.
Here are the seven biggest mistakes UAE companies make during a PR crisis:
- Failing to acknowledge responsibility. Mistakes are inevitable and your company is not an exception to this rule. The biggest mistake you can make is to pretend nothing happened or to deny responsibility, only to be proven guilty. Whenever your company makes a mistake, be brave and admit it publicly. Take responsibility for what went wrong and offer a public apology whenever appropriate.
- Failing to take prompt and effective action. To be prompt and effective during a PR crisis means to make sure you respond quickly or vaguely to any allegations. Failing to do that will cost you your reputation and your future contracts. The right way to go is to engage in communication with your target audience and any relevant stakeholders in a speedy manner.
- Being inauthentic and arrogant. A PR crisis should be handled with promptitude and effectiveness, but also with humility. This means that any communication with the media or stakeholders must be honest. Arrogant demeanors convey to your audience the idea that you believe to be above the mistake and the only natural consequence is a loss of trust on the part of your clients. You should be honest in your explanations and your apologies. Also, you should also show you are in control, in a humble manner.
- Expecting a press release to do the trick. While a press release is indispensable in curbing a PR crisis, it is just one element in a proper crisis communication plan. This is the time to make sure you engage in sustained communication across all social media platforms (such as Twitter and Linkedin). Remember that effective communication is a two-way street, so, apart from issuing your own communication material, you should be ready to engage with your audience and be prepared to answer inquiries.
- Failing to respond to questions. If you don’t respond to inquiries from the media and other stakeholders, you will give off the impression that you are indeed guilty as charged, or that you have no idea what you are doing, or, even worse, that you don’t care about people’s opinions. If the public perceives you as not being interested in the outcome of the PR crisis, your PR days are likely to be numbered. Saying you don’t know an answer to a specific question is better than not saying anything at all.
- Responding impersonally. While a press release is impersonal in nature, this is the time for CEOs to step up and claim responsibility. A PR crisis requires a central authority figure that is accountable, visible and interested in finding the right solutions. As a CEO, you must be prepared to assume responsibility openly and make yourself available to questions from the media and other stakeholders.
- Being untruthful. In an effort to limit the damaging effects of a PR crisis, some PR agencies decide to lie about certain issues. This is likely to spell doom for your company because the truth always comes out, one way or another. Lying and getting found out is the best way to permanently lose face. It is better to just admit the truth because, as damaging as it may be right now, in the long run, it will help restore your credibility. You might seem even more trustworthy as a company because people will know that, although you may have made mistakes in the past, you had the necessary dignity to admit them and to learn your lessons.
- Giving out incomplete answers. Proper management of a PR crisis requires that all answers be as complete as possible. This means that providing details is a must. Keep in mind that, if your reputation and your credibility are being questioned, vague communication will only increase doubt about your company. Prepare detailed messages and provide detailed replies to the questions you get.