Accidents happen.

Problems are an inevitable part of the business landscape.

Unfortunately, when issues do arise, they often cast a shadow on your brand’s reputation. This can lead to a domino effect, impacting not just your public image but also your revenue. The truth is, nowadays, when a single negative social media comment can snowball into a full-blown crisis, there’s no foolproof way to prevent such incidents from occurring.

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

However, even in the face of these challenges, not everything is lost.

There are various mechanisms and tools at your disposal to manage a PR crisis efficiently and mitigate its effects. By adopting a proactive approach, you can not only manage the damage but also turn the situation into an opportunity for growth.

Let’s dive into the strategies and steps you can take to prepare for a crisis, handle it effectively when it strikes, and ultimately emerge from it with your reputation and revenue intact.

How to Prepare For a PR Crisis

Identify potential risks

You can’t prepare for a crisis, if you don’t know what could provoke it, right?

So the first step in preparing is to start by defining the scope of potential risks that could present a threat to your brand.

There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself here:

  • What can you expect from your industry landscape
  • Is there anything in your internal operations that you should revise or take specific care of
  • In which contexts is your brand mentioned (on social media, forums, traditional media, review pages, etc.)

Read Social Listening for Crisis Management: A Comprehensive Guide

Start by defining potential risks

So, for example, think if there are disgruntled employees, competitors eyeing vulnerabilities, or trending topics that could take an unexpected turn. Consider past incidents, prevalent industry trends, and any sensitive issues that might resurface.

Answering these questions will give you a map of potential pitfalls that you can take as starting points. 

Track the conversations around your brand

Monitoring conversations around your brand is something like eavesdropping on a conversation people are having about you, without intruding or getting noticed. And it’s not only about listening. It’s about staying in the loop and doing something about it.

The easiest way to track these conversations is with the help of a media monitoring tool like Determ. You simply insert the name of your brand, and the platform tracks all conversations mentioning your brand over millions of sources and delivers them to your feed. How does that help?

It helps you understand how your brand is perceived, what people say about it, how they feel, what they are bothered with, what they like and dislike, etc. This means that you can easily detect and track if a bad comment leads to a potential crisis and do something about it on time.

Tracking the brand Nike through Determ

Build your crisis management team

Start by identifying individuals within your organization who bring a mix of cool-headedness, strategic thinking, and effective communication skills to the table. This isn’t a one-person show; it’s a collaborative effort. Your team should include representatives from various departments, ensuring a diversity of perspectives.

Designate clear roles and responsibilities, from the frontline communicators to the behind-the-scenes analysts. Training is crucial; make sure your team is well-versed in crisis response protocols. Building your crisis management team is like preparing for a marathon, not a sprint. Choose wisely, train thoroughly, and trust in the strength of your collective expertise when the spotlight turns to your organization.

Read 3 Good Crisis Management Examples

Create a crisis communication plan

Crafting a crisis communication plan is the organizational equivalent of having a fire escape route—essential, even if you hope to never use it. Start by defining potential scenarios and their corresponding communication strategies. Clearly outline key spokespeople, their roles, and the chain of command. Establish a reliable method of internal communication to ensure everyone is on the same page. Your plan should encompass various channels, from traditional media to social platforms.

Timing is critical, so set clear guidelines for response times. Remember, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all document; it should be a dynamic guide that evolves with your organization. In the unpredictable landscape of a crisis, having a well-thought-out communication plan is like having a compass in uncharted waters—it keeps you on course when the storm hits. 

Set clear guidelines for response times

6 Steps to Navigate a PR Crisis

Detect early warning signs

The first step in managing a PR crisis is to be the early bird that catches the worm. Monitor social media and news channels for any signs of trouble. Identifying potential issues early on allows you to assess the severity of the situation and respond promptly, preventing a spark from turning into a full-blown fire.

This is where a media monitoring tool like Determ makes all the difference. Determ has a feature called alerts, that you can easily use to get notified whenever the name of your brand is mentioned.

Let’s say you’re a PR specialist in Nike, and one of your tasks is building and preserving Nike’s reputation. You can use the tool to get a notification to your email or Slack whenever the name of the brand appears somewhere online (or some of the company’s products, campaigns, etc.). This is called a Smart Alert.

alerting real time alerts
Real-time alerts in Determ

But, in the context of crisis management, there are other alert types in the tool that can be even more useful – Spike alerts and Net sentiment spike alerts. Spike alerts are triggered when there is an unusual growth in the number of mentions of your desired keyword in a specific period.

Alerting spike-alerts dashboard
Spike alerts overview in Determ

Net sentiment spike alert, on the other hand, notifies you when there is an unusual shift towards a more positive or negative sentiment of your mentions. A shift in the negative direction can signify that there is a crisis brewing and that you should pay more attention to what caused it. 

Read PR Crisis Management – 5 Ways Social Listening Tools Save the Day

Gather information

When the storm clouds gather, it’s time to activate your crisis management plan and assemble the designated team. Swiftly gather all pertinent information, ensuring that your team is well-informed and ready to tackle the unfolding situation. 

One extremely effective way of gathering information is through a media monitoring tool, as mentioned above. It not only gathers your mentions, it provides reports which are a treasure chest of valuable info. Ultimately, you can find out what is the prevalent sentiment of your mentions, what kind of engagement or influence specific posts have, at which point people talked most about you and how, etc. 

In addition, Determ has an AI PR assistant Synthia, that summarizes and provides interpretations of every graph in your report, providing a conclusion, an analysis of the tone of voice, and some suggestions on what you could do further. 

Synthia Feed Popup in Reports
Synthia summary in Determ

Manage communication

Communication is the backbone of crisis management. Choose your communication channels wisely, be transparent and honest in your messaging, outline corrective actions, and, above all, maintain a consistent narrative. Effective communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it and the actions that follow.

There is a lot you can learn from your competitors through media monitoring. You can simply insert their brand names into the tool and track how they are perceived and how they deal with specific situations. 

Read 5 Crisis Communication Examples: Here’s How to Do It

Competitive analysis in Determ

Monitor and respond 

As the crisis unfolds, closely monitor public perception. Swiftly respond to the crisis with a resolution plan in action. Adapting and responding in real-time is key to regaining control. Continuously assess public sentiment, allowing your responses to be agile and reflective of the evolving landscape. 

Rebuild trust 

Once the storm subsides, the work of rebuilding trust begins. Follow-up communication is crucial in this phase. Address lingering concerns, communicate the steps taken to prevent a recurrence, and demonstrate a commitment to learning and improvement. Consistent and sincere follow-up is the bridge to rebuilding trust with your audience. 


The final step involves a post-mortem evaluation. Analyze the crisis response comprehensively, identifying strengths and areas for improvement. Embrace the lessons learned to fortify your crisis management strategies in the future. A thorough post-crisis evaluation transforms challenges into opportunities for growth and resilience.

Turn the evaluation into opportunities

What Happens After a PR Crisis

After a crisis, your organization or brand enters a phase of recovery and reflection. It’s time to systematically assess the effectiveness of your crisis management efforts. Analyze the data gathered during and after the crisis, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your response. This introspection is not about dwelling on the past but rather about extracting valuable insights for the future.

Additionally, use this period to conduct a thorough review of the changes implemented in response to the crisis.

  • Have those changes been effective, or is there room for further refinement?

Engage with stakeholders to gauge their perception of your recovery efforts. Remember, the post-crisis phase is not merely a return to business as usual; it’s a chance for learning and growing. By learning from the experience, adapting strategies, and implementing positive changes, your organization can emerge stronger, more prepared, and with a renewed commitment to maintaining trust and credibility.

Read 4 Examples of Social Media Crises that Could Have Been Prevented

To Conclude

Finally, keep in mind that every crisis is an opportunity for improvement. By fostering a culture of transparency, continuous learning, and proactive crisis preparedness, your organization can not only weather the storms but also set sail toward a more resilient and successful future. In the world of PR, the narrative is not just about the crisis; it’s about the comeback, growth, and strong commitment to build trust.

If you’d like to find out more about how Determ can help you manage a PR crisis and save your brand reputation, book a demo with our experts.

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