I should identify the subject of this piece as PR, because it’s going to feel like I’m talking about football.
Last Thursday night, instead of hanging out with booksellers arriving at SIBA, I was parked in front of the TV watching the K-State vs. Auburn football game. Although both teams were ranked, an easy Auburn win was predicted.
Auburn did win, 20-14, but the victory was more difficult than expected, even though K-State tried to give it away multiple times. A bobbled pass intercepted in the end zone. A fumble in Auburn territory. Missed field goal. Missed field goal. Missed field goal.
Yep. Three of them.
K-State’s kicker, Jack Cantele, is from Wichita. He attended the same school as my girls, so we always have a little bit of hometown pride whenever we watch Cantele (both Jack and his older brother, Anthony, before him) kick. Going into the game, he had only missed 3 field goals in his college career. It was difficult to watch him miss 3 in one night.
I was worried about him. Even though mistakes were made by many, those 3 missed field goals were what people were talking about. And then Jack sent out this tweet:
At the end of the day if it had to happen to someone, I’m glad it was me and not any of my teammates. I can handle it & we will get better✌️
— Jack Cantele (@JackCantele3) September 19, 2014
We do not know what crises will arise in our businesses. Maybe the coffee your serve will make people ill. Perhaps you posted an 8:00 p.m. start time for a 7:00 p.m. event. Maybe you forgot to get that book signed for a customer before the author left. Because we never know exactly what the crisis will be, we cannot orchestrate a step-by-step plan. But we can be better prepared.
Here are three things to remember when faced with a PR crisis:
- Show regret. Take on the blame if it’s appropriate, because it will be assigned to you anyway. The longer it takes to show regret, the more guilty you look.
- React with class. You will be judged first by the mistake, but what will be remembered is your reaction.
- Try to make it right. Some things cannot be fixed or undone, but if you’re wrong and try to make it right, it’s a step in the right direction.