FirstDibs by Amor Maclang • Published 02 September 2019
Seasoned public relations practitioners deal with risk and crisis management on a regular basis. That’s because every client project needs to have an entire crisis plan in the back burner, ready to be used for the worst.
Award-winning brand architect, reputation strategist, and co-founder of GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications Amor Maclang shared her constant battle and many wins against crisis at the 26th National Retail Conference and Stores Asia Expo ‘19 held last August 15 and 16 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
“Nine out of 10 companies hire me when the crisis is already in progress with no advanced preparations—and I have to pull them out of it,” Amor shared. Having seen the ins and outs of the industry for many years, Amor has encountered her fair share of crises from different industries and companies.
As she co-heads her PR firm, Amor drills down on five important lessons that every PR practitioner, brand manager, company executive, and marketing professional needs to know. Like the veteran strategist that she is, Amor likens risk and crisis management to fighting in the battlefield—and winning.
For Amor, this is the most important lesson because it plants the seed for risk and crisis management to become a company’s priority.
“Some people think they are being efficient by focusing only on company operations. Others think they just have to be practical and cross the crisis bridge when they get there,” noted Amor. “That’s not how it works. They often learn too late that only teams that thoroughly practice sailing in a storm actually survive it unscathed.”
Knowing how to handle a crisis is not just the executives’ job. Training the team to handle the stress of dealing with crisis goes a long way for when trouble comes. Of the different techniques, Amor emphasizes trigger training for the team. While executives can get their fair share of training and planning, those who don’t have access to decision-making strategies can easily panic.
“One of the biggest mistakes that one can make is to lose their cool. Your employees have to learn how to respond to an emotionally charged environment properly because they are part of your company,” stressed Amor.
As the head of the team that handled the rise of ride-hailing motorcycle company Angkas from the ashes and back on the road, Amor emphasized that handling a crisis is not just about dealing with media but reaching out to and engaging pertinent stakeholders.
“A common misconception is that media-trained executives can weather through a crisis. In reality, adopting a network-conscious way of preparing will help your organization identify who you need to reach out to and how to properly go about it,” Amor added.
In the case of Angkas, this meant reaching out to the proper officials and departments, business owners, operators, and, of course, the commuting public who needed their services. And the output? A reinstatement of legal operations and the winning of the public’s trust and confidence.
Amor was also quick to stress that crisis management entails a discerning eye and adaptive skills. Most companies fall into either the fight or the apologize mode of action. She noted that, while these are proper decisions, the common mistake is choosing one when the other would have been a more appropriate choice.
“You need to see the full picture. Analyze the crisis and see mitigating factors. Are sales affected? Is your target market affected and involved? Always ask questions and scrutinize—I cannot stress this enough,” Amor emphasized.
Creating a well-rounded team means ensuring that each one is ready and knowledgeable in marketing the brand on good days and keeping it strong on bad ones.
“Crisis is a matter of speed and precision. You can only truly execute these two things if you know them by heart and by work of hand,” said Amor.
The PR guru highlighted the importance of the entire marketing and brand management department having training in basic crisis prevention. From her experience, she believes that her team has continuously been a source of strength and creativity in ensuring that clients feel nothing but secured and satisfied with their brand’s reputation.
Amor continues to encourage the practitioners and corporate executives to understand risk and crisis management. Dealing with the good and the bad of a company’s operations is essential.
While nipping crisis in the bud is a PR practitioner’s job, what separates the great from the best are those that plant the seeds of good brand practices from the very start.