Collectively, we’ve spent nearly more than thirty years in the public relations industry, where dealing with crises is par for the course. In fact, in a recent study, PR executive was ranked the 5th most stressful career behind commercial airline pilot, firefighter, military general and enlisted military personnel. Hard to believe that we’d rank amongst jobs that literally have the lives of others in their hands but, as we say in our profession, we’re “paid to be paranoid.” In our book, , Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work,we dedicate an entire chapter to crisis management.
The truth is, we all face difficult situations at work but not everyone knows how to handle them. Often people let mistakes and crises cripple — even paralyze — them, but bouncing back from roadblocks in your career is not as daunting as you might think. We really believe that every crisis is an opportunity. Most errors are reversible, and it’s important to remember that how you respond in tough times shows who you are as a person as much, if not more, than how you are in good times.
Need some guidelines? Here are a few tips for how to handle your next crisis:
#1: Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst.
- Go with your gut. When you see a red flag, pay attention. How many times in life have you kicked yourself for not listening to that little voice in your head that says, “Something is wrong here”?
- Have a plan and a back-up plan. In PR, we try to lay out a strategy and do our best to identify potential pitfalls and problems on the horizon. While we may not always be able to predict what’s coming our way, by doing the exercise and putting a solid plan on paper, you’ll be prepared to deal with it if the issue ever sees the light of the day.
#2: Be a Problem Solver.
- Stay calm. In a crisis, people tend to get anxious. Maintaining a sense of Zen will not only allow you to think more clearly but will also set the tone for those around you.
- Get focused. You want to quickly assess the damage and determine how to move forward.
- Find a solution. Next, you need to figure out how to address and remedy the situation. Start by considering your end game — what’s the ultimate outcome you’d like to see? — and work backwards from there.