A saying goes: the best brand crisis is the one we never heard about. 

As PR and marketing professionals, we understand the high stakes of reputation management. Our careers are defined by our ability to keep our company’s or clients’ brands thriving and untarnished. We’ve witnessed the unforgiving consequences of missteps and undesirable events that can plunge a once-vibrant personal or business brand into the depths of a full-blown reputation crisis. 

💡 Read Crisis Management 101: How to Save Your Business When a Crisis Strikes

This comprehensive guide will walk you through a 7-step risk management journey tailored specifically for PR professionals. 

7 Steps to Manage a PR Risk

Accurate Problem Classification

Not every negative remark requires a full-blown crisis response. Prioritize issues based on their potential impact on your company’s reputation. For instance, avoid involving your CEO in responding to every negative review. Consider the overall effect on your company’s performance and reputation. Sometimes, strategic inaction is the best approach in reputation management.

Example: If a minor complaint arises on social media, gauge its significance before initiating a response. Some issues may dissipate without intervention.

Slack response on Twitter on down status
Slack response on X on down status

Read 10 Most Famous Examples of Damaged Corporate Reputation

Swift response

Time is of the essence during a PR crisis. Act promptly to control the narrative and minimize damage. Preparing generic responses in advance for various scenarios allows for quick dissemination. Choose communication channels that align with your audience, such as Facebook, articles, blog posts, or videos. 

Using media monitoring tools makes it easy to discover which channels your audience uses the most. You do this by keeping track of your brand name but differentiating its mentions on owned and earned channels. This way, earned mentions won’t count for your posts but only those of the audience. And a glance over to the reports section will reveal your audience’s most used channel.

Example: In the event of a product recall, a swift response on social media platforms and a detailed explanation on your website can help address concerns.

Identify the First Response Unit

Train your employees to form a cohesive response team. Clearly define responsibilities, with customer service and social media teams often serving as the first line of defense. To ensure comprehensive coverage, assemble a broader crisis response team, including individuals from various departments.

Example: A negative social media comment detected by customer service can be addressed promptly, preventing it from escalating into a larger crisis.

Evaluate the Crisis Situation

The crisis response team should assess the situation, understanding its unique aspects and potential implications. Tailor the response based on the nature and severity of the crisis. The initial focus should be on damage assessment and control.

Media monitoring tools can be extremely beneficial for this matter. Metrics such as sentiment analysis over time can help you see how significant the spike in negative comments actually was. 

Example: If a data breach occurs, the response will differ from a product recall, necessitating distinct strategies for containment and communication.

Prepare the Final Plan of Action

Develop a comprehensive plan based on honesty and transparency. Avoid denying or shifting blame, as it may exacerbate the crisis. Acknowledge mistakes and demonstrate a commitment to rectifying the situation.

Example: If a service outage occurs, a transparent acknowledgment of the issue and a detailed plan for resolution can reassure customers.

Read How to Manage a PR Crisis

Cooperate with Influencers

Identify influencers who can support your brand during and after a crisis. Use media monitoring tools to find influencers aligned with your brand. Assess their content, engagement, and platform relevance to select the right influencer to endorse your brand.

Example: In the wake of a negative event, collaborating with influencers who are already advocates for your brand can help rebuild trust.

PR Risk Analysis

After the crisis is resolved, thoroughly analyze the management plan. Evaluate what worked well and what failed, and identify areas for improvement. Assess the performance of the crisis response team and consider adjustments for future incidents.

Example: Reviewing the response to a public apology can provide insights into the effectiveness of the messaging and the chosen communication channels.

Can you stop a crisis before it happens?

Most PR problems can be avoided. Even better, they can become opportunities for brands to show they stand by their values and connect better with the people who matter most. That’s where PR risk management comes in, allowing PR experts to guide clients in building brands that can withstand the test of time, tough times, and setbacks by spotting and handling reputation risks early on.

It begins by examining how a brand’s actions and policies match its values. Regularly assessing risks and planning for what could go wrong in all parts of the business helps to avoid problems and lets everyone know what’s going on when things do go wrong.

I get it – you’re busy dealing with the things in front of you right now, and spending time on this may seem like a big risk. But not doing it can lead to much bigger problems. You could end up with long-lasting damage, like losing partnerships, higher costs, business disruptions, a damaged company culture, lower sales, and investors losing confidence. It could become a massive mess for you to clean up in public.

Read Crisis Management Plan: How to Keep Your Business Afloat?

As a PR expert, you’re the one who can make this happen because you know the brand inside and out. You’re great at understanding how people see the brand, and you’ve seen what can go wrong when problems become public. You need the confidence to spot issues and understand the business well enough to find problems during checks to do well in this role. You also need to predict what might go wrong.

Take this example of Burger King.

Example of a tweet that could go wrong but was a part of a campaign, Burger King: Women belong in the kitchen
Burger King post: Women belong in the kitchen.

And here’s what happened after.

Burger King Response to backlash
Burger King response to post “Women belong in the kitchen”.

Which features of a media monitoring tool are the most relevant for PR Risk Management?

Mentions over time

Number of mentions is the total number of mentions around a topic. Mentions over time is spanned across a time period. A growing number of mentions can indicate a growth in popularity. 

Mentions over time for PR risk management

This can either be good or bad. This is where sentiment analysis comes in.

Sentiment analysis

An AI social listening tool, such as Determ, will automatically assign a sentiment to the collected online mentions. You will see whether the talk about your brand is positive, negative, or neutral. 


Growth in the number of mentions and prevailing negative sentiment indicates a PR risk in the making. Monitor the metrics closely to reach in time before it blow over.

Read Social Media Sentiment Analysis: A Guide

Real-time alerts

Surely, in order to stop a risk or crisis from spreading, you need to be aware of it. That’s why it is inevitably necessary to have a robust notification system. 

Real time alerts for PR Risk management

Determ’s alerting allows you to receive all mentions or filtered ones. 

Determ offers three types of alerts that will help you manage a PR risk:

  1. Slack notifications: Our Marketing team loves this one. Every time there is a new mention, it reaches our Slack channel, and the whole team is up to date.
  2. Email notifications: 
  3. In-app notifications

This is great, but the ultimate feature MVP goes to Spike Alerts.

Spike alerts

Determ’s Spike Alerts transcend traditional alerting systems. Our Spike Alerts allow you to quickly understand why a topic is suddenly gaining more traction online without going through mentions in the feed.

Picture this: Your brand has been mentioned 1.5 times more daily than usual. Or your net sentiment has lost 30 points (this works like NPS). This triggers our Spike Alert Email.

You receive the email and head on over to the Spike Alert Dashboard. It entails all necessary information, starting with the most important ones: the number of mentions chart comparing the spike date and the last seven days’ average. This notifies you of how significant the spike was. The second most important information is the Alert summary by Synthia. It summarizes the top reach mentions from the spike and gives an overview of what’s happening. 

Here’s what else our spike dashboard enables you to see:

  • Sentiment
  • Sentiment per hour
  • Locations
  • Top 10 mentions by reach
  • Latest mentions
  • Top influencers by reach
  • Phrase cloud


This guide has provided a concise roadmap for PR professionals, emphasizing proactive risk management. With Determ’s powerful media monitoring tools, including Spike Alerts, Sentiment Analysis, and Real-Time Alerts, PR experts gain the upper hand in navigating the digital landscape. By leveraging these features, you not only avert crises but transform them into opportunities for brand resilience. In the fast-paced realm of reputation management, Determ stands as a strategic ally, enabling PR professionals to stay informed, agile, and ready to shape positive brand narratives. Embrace proactive PR management with Determ for a future-proof brand presence.

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