Top Takeaways from the PR News Crisis/Measurement Summit

Last week, my colleague and I had the opportunity to attend the PR News Crisis/Measurement Summit in Miami. We decided to attend this particular conference with the increasing requests from clients for crisis-related assistance and the ongoing question, “how do we measure PR results?” To top it off, there was a stellar lineup of speakers – from leaders at Google and PayPal to McDonald’s and Carnival Cruise Lines – and the most interesting mix of attendees who were more than willing to share their experiences. And with the coronavirus crisis exploding, it could not have been more timely.

Here are my top takeaways:

  1. There is no silver bullet for PR measurement – There were many speakers who addressed the same topic and they all had the same point: there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for PR measurement. For every client and business, you need to clearly identify what you are trying to measure to gauge success and make sure that it is measurable and achievable. And make sure you get buy-in from the client about what those metrics are so you are on the same page about how to define your success.
  2. Don’t say “no comment” is still the golden crisis rule – This came up during two different panels, but most agreed that you still do not want to say “no comment” to media. Either don’t comment at all, or find a creative way to say “no comment.”
  3. Keep your media statements short and to the point – We all know that the media will rarely print a crisis response in its entirety, especially the part where you mention something positive. So, it was a good reminder to partner with legal to say what needs to be said in the fewest words possible to ensure you address the situation and also reinforce your brand’s core values. You can also consider developing a dedicated microsite where you can refer media and provide facts and updates on the situation.
  4. Make sure social has a seat at the table – When dealing with a crisis, make sure your social media team is aware and a part of the conversation as you prepare to respond. It may not always make sense for them to post a statement, but it’s extremely helpful to keep them in the know so they can monitor for comments and conversations that may be important to track and potentially respond to – depending on the situation, of course. This also ensures consistency in messaging across media channels.
  5. Don’t forget the employees – In the midst of a crisis, it’s very easy to worry more about the external response and secondarily address the internal. However, it’s important to remember that your employees are your best advocates and ambassadors. People talk, so make sure you are addressing employees when dealing with a crisis, as word of mouth is sometimes just as powerful as the media.
  6. You can plan, plan, plan, but every reaction/response needs to be fresh and timely – As much as we hear ‘you must plan for the inevitable’, don’t just push out a canned statement that was created a year ago. Update statements as situations develop to make sure they’re up to date, especially for fast-moving and evolving stories like the coronavirus that are changing almost daily. I think what is most important is that you have a clear process in place for approvals so that even if you have to get a statement re-reviewed by your internal team or legal, it can happen quickly so you can still respond in a timely manner. Because if you put something out there that isn’t appropriate, you could be exacerbating the situation.

My final takeaway is that it’s good to get out of your bubble sometimes and meet other people who do similar work for different industries to share insight and experiences that will only help further your career and benefit your clients.

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