Can You Handle A Crisis?

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A crisis can happen to any business, of any size, at any time. Do you have procedures in place to avoid a crisis before it happens, and a plan for responding to it when it strikes? And if you do have a plan, is it effective?

This year, the world will celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 97th birthday. Whether he knew it or not, he had a lot to say about crisis communications. In honor of his life and achievements, we’ll use some of his wise quotes to highlight key elements of a solid and successful crisis management plan:

“The first thing is to be honest with yourself.”

You may not be able to account for every possibility, but you can identify the most likely problem areas and prepare for the moment when they cause a major issue for your company. Be aware of your liabilities, the things that could come back to haunt you, personally and professionally. Some of these might be uncomfortable truths, but think how much worse it would be if someone else found them first.

“One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.”

Part of being honest with yourself is acknowledging that you and your business are vulnerable. If you accept that you are not immune to damage, you can create a plan that will protect your brand from the worst repercussions.

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

A strong response to a crisis can shine a positive light on you and your company even in dark times. Your handling of negative situations says a lot about your business. You can respond to a crisis in a way that makes the public question your integrity, or you can respond in a way that gives them reasons to respect you more.

“When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.”

Whatever you do, do not ignore the problem. The crisis will affect you whether you react to it or not. You will have more control over the outcome if you are proactive. Ask for support from a trusted advisor, someone not affected by the situation and who has had a positive experience handling crisis.

If you or your business is facing a crisis, don’t lose hope! You may feel discouraged, as though there is no way you and your business can ever bounce back. But a solid plan and a right execution will carry you all the way through from prevention, to response, to reclaiming your good reputation when the smoke clears.

As Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

GillespieHall is an integrated digital marketing and digital PR  firm. Our award-winning team is comprised of astute PR  communicators, sociologists, digital strategists, and  creative content designers. We are leaders in exceptional  results-based marketing, social media,  brand development and crisis  management.

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Preparing for the Pope: 1 million visitors, 7,000 members of the media

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This fall, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe will flock to our city for the World Meeting of Families. It’s estimated that over 1 million visitors will make the journey to Philadelphia for the week-long celebration. The festivities will have a powerful effect on the area; hotels are already booked, businesses will be booming and the economic impact will be huge. At the latest PPRA luncheon, PR for a Mega Event: Preparing for the Pope, some of the public relations professionals who are helping to ensure the World Meeting of Families runs smoothly spoke on what they have been doing and the excitement and challenges they’ve faced.

Representatives from the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Philadelphia, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Brian Communications and the Mayor’s Office came together to address a crowd eager to learn about the process of planning for a series of events as large as the World Meeting of Families.

Big PR Challenges for the Papal Visit 

Social media
It is anticipated that social media for the World Meeting of Families will be up and running in 10 to 20 languages. This is a huge undertaking, but the communications partners working to set it all up are well prepared. A big social media center will be working at all hours of the day working to monitor, engage and keep things going smoothly.

24/7 deadlines
This exciting series of events is drawing an international crowd, which means international press. These members of the media will be working with deadlines far outside our time zone and it is important that they are able to meet those deadlines. In order to help facilitate this, there will be a 24/7 media center running from the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Credentialing
There will be between five and seven thousand members of the media in Philadelphia for this week in September. It is realistically not possible to give every journalist, reporter and the like a credential for every event taking place. The professionals behind the media organization are hard at work to find a balance that makes everyone feel involved and keeps everyone informed. Part of this effort includes live streaming of events that can be viewed in the 24/7 media center.

Security
Pope Francis giving a public mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is just one example of an event during the week that will need some serious security measures. The Mayor’s Office is in close contact with police from all over the world, coordinating and organizing the best possible ways to keep the Pope and all the attendees safe and secure. It’s a good thing that Philadelphia is exceptional at hosting large events and will have plenty of test events to try out new security tactics.

Controlling the message
The last time the Pope visited the United States social media was not nearly as prevalent as it is in today’s society. The communications professionals teaming up for the World Meeting of Families are working hard to craft great messaging to put out to all audiences. Social media makes it difficult for the messages to be controlled. Those pushing out information on social media can, in reality, say whatever they want and create their own (potentially false, potentially negative) messaging.  The social media center, set up in the Convention Center alongside the media center, will be crucial in monitoring posts and ensuring the proper messages are being shared on all channels.

Measurement
The great debate in the realm of public relations is how to effectively measure the success of a story placement, event, campaign, etc. The World Meeting of Families team is ready to take on the task of measuring the success of individual events throughout the week and the celebration as a whole. It’s incredibly important to capture this data because it’s a once in a lifetime happening and the chance won’t come around again.

It’s clear that the folks handling the Papal visit to Philadelphia are leaving no stone unturned. Keep an eye out for more developments as the World Meeting of Families approaches and get ready for the execution of an amazing series of events.

London Faust is an Account Representative at Bellevue Communications Group, a public relations firm specializing in media relations, crisis communications and issue management. She is forever #TempleMade, class of 2014. Follow her personal ramblings on Twitter at @londonfaust or her professional doings at @BellevuePRPhl.

The Inside Story of DO|AC

DOACThe Inside Story of DO|AC held last week was an anticipated program for PPRA members. Atlantic City, a destination for tourists and a home away from home for some PPRA members went through some major shakeups at the end of 2014. Many members asked “What is Atlantic City going to do?” prior to the presentation and speakers from the Atlantic City Alliance did not disappoint.

Jeff Guaracino (Executive Director), Nicole Cashman (Public Relations) and Melanie Sole (Public Relations) provided PPRA members with an in-depth power point presentation that promoted the positive of Atlantic City and how the Atlantic City Alliance was the reinvention of the city’s tourism and marketing campaigns. While Atlantic City produced $2.5 billion in gaming revenue last year and can fill 15,000 rooms on a weekend, the Atlantic City Alliance’s goal is to attract the leisure tourist to the entertainment capital of the Jersey Shore.

In 2014 alone, the Atlantic City Alliance had:

  • 500+ media trips through FAM tours or visiting journalists
  • Good Morning America
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Philadelphia and New York Advertising
  • 13,000 radio ads
  • The Miss America Pageant’s return to Atlantic City
  • Two free concerts on the beach that attracted more than 20,000 attendees
  • The DO|AC experience on wheels campaign
  • Toll Free Tuesday
  • Return customer rates increasing to 68%

While last year’s destination marketing campaign led to an impressive roster of placements and content integration, the audience asked what is next in 2015? Jeff Guaracino said they had no idea and that the next 30 days will be eye opening as the state has sent in emergency managers to evaluate how to fix the issues in Atlantic City. The Atlantic City Alliance staying true to their message “promote the positive” is focused on summer and Memorial Day Weekend. Nicole Cashman and Melanie Sole applauded Jeff and told the audience it’s amazing to work with and have a boss or client who has such optimism and drive for their organization.

To our tourism neighbor at the Jersey Shore, we are rooting for you and thank you for sharing The Inside Story of DO|AC.

Jade Barnes is the Marketing Coordinator for The Shops at Liberty Place and a proud Atlantic City native. While handling all of the traditional and digital marketing for The Shops, Jade runs all of the events from concept to execution. While writing her own personal blog, Jade works with Femme & Fortune an online magazine for ambitious women and the Temple Women’s Network. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.