PR disasters and crises that disrupt an organization’s brand come in various shapes and sizes – from workplace accidents to product recalls, negative reviews, offensive comments, or even criminal charges against an employee or executive.
Poor communications – or awkward responses to crises – can have enormous financial impacts, both direct and indirect. A direct example is Peloton’s staggered response to a recall request in May 2021 which led the company to lose more than $4 billion in market cap in a single day.
A more indirect example occurred during Rogers Communications’ days-long outage in Canada that impacted millions of customers. In Rogers’ case, the telco was forced (in part by the government) to commit to invest more than $10 billion in infrastructure improvements. The incident also jeopardized a long-planned merger between Rogers and Shaw Communications.
Such crises can devastate an organization’s fortunes, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.
The ultimate way to manage a PR crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Organizations can also use a combination of media monitoring and predictive artificial intelligence (AI) to combat the negative effects of a crisis, should one occur.
Let’s look at some of the main ways your organization can avoid PR disasters with media monitoring.
How to avoid PR disasters with media monitoring
It’s always preferable to avoid a crisis. And with media monitoring combined with AI, you can – with the right approach. Here are the main ways media monitoring can help brands avoid a PR crisis:
- Keeping your finger on the pulse of the media landscape. When performed effectively, media monitoring provides vital advance-intelligence on the lay of the media landscape. That means PR teams with strong media monitoring – and media analysis – already know which ongoing issues could be ripe for a flare-up or could make for social media fodder. For brand managers, wherever your products or services interact with the public, the more integral you are to their day-to-day. That means the risk is even greater – even for small failures. Prepare accordingly.
They also know which journalists and influencers are likely to be supportive (or the opposite), how other organizations have dealt with similar situations, and how long similar crises have lasted before dying down.
- Early crisis detection. This is where PredictiveAI™ can really shine because it uses machine learning to learn the context behind each real-time mention while comparing current coverage to past crises, issues, and other events. In this way, the AI can predict with a high degree of accuracy which content could go viral, giving PR teams the runway to stop issues from turning into full-blown crises.
How media monitoring can help manage a PR crisis
It’s not always possible to head a PR crisis off at the pass; sometimes, events out of your control can spiral quickly into a PR disaster. In that case, you can also use media monitoring and AI to help manage a crisis.
As we mentioned in the previous section, companies with diligent media monitoring and analysis programs typically have a good handle on the key issues, stakeholders, and other topics that could become problematic. Media monitoring provides a strong foundation for managing any future issue in the media. When news hits the proverbial fan, organizations with a strong and tested crisis plan know that evaluating sub-topics in crisis can help brands find a path out of one.
But PR crises in the age of online news, social media, and instant communication can move and evolve incredibly quickly. Thanks to the magic of follow-up coverage, they can also last a long time. And if a stakeholder group forms around your issue and wants to hold your feet to the fire, that follow-up coverage can last even longer.
In such a situation, media and social media monitoring can help keep your team focused on its magnetic north during what can be an incredibly stressful time. Here are the main ways media monitoring can help brands manage a PR crisis:
- Detecting the key players and influencers. The significant players or influencers in a crisis aren’t always who you might expect, especially if a negative issue brews up overnight. Organizations don’t get advance notice about one of their products failing or a high-ranking employee being arrested for impaired driving, for example. In these and other cases, PR teams must be able to react incredibly quickly to determine who is involved, what their relation is to the crisis, and the best way to deal with what they say in public about your brand.
- Identification of real-time media mentions of your brand that could go viral. Even if a crisis comes seemingly out of nowhere, predictive AI can be a force multiplier for busy PR teams to help identify a potential crisis that may initially fly under the radar. That means your PR team doesn’t have to spend as much time poring through media monitoring results or briefings each morning and instead can devote more of their time to proactive crisis management.
- Tracking the evolution of the crisis. Engaging media monitoring with real-time alerts and regular reporting during a crisis gives PR teams an evidence-based view of the velocity of a crisis and how that’s trending. Is it speeding up? Slowing down? Is follow-up coverage expected at a later date? Has your response team helped? A media monitoring tool with human curation provides answers to all these questions and more.
- Managing the response. In any crisis, it’s important to apologize (if whatever happened is your organization’s fault) and clearly communicate what you’re doing to mitigate the situation, which means more than just sending out a press release. Media monitoring provides the media intelligence necessary to craft the most effective crisis communications plan and target the most impactful influencers. Combined with sentiment analysis, it helps ensure your responses and engagements have the appropriate tone.
Brands that overcome communications issues can claw their way back to trust through careful communications and clear actions. Media monitoring can help a brand evaluate whether the actions it takes after a crisis impacted the conversation by transforming detractors to passive observers, and bringing promoters back on board. However, it doesn’t happen overnight – or without an insight-driven plan.
Fullintel: Award-winning crisis monitoring with PredictiveAI
Fullintel clients can use our proprietary PredictiveAI human-in-the-loop machine-learning technology to avoid crises by identifying and responding to emerging stories and issues earlier and more effectively. Ongoing media monitoring helps organizations keep tabs on their brand’s reputation in the media and on social media.
Should a full-on crisis hit, Fullintel clients can activate our award-winning 24/7 crisis media monitoring, alerting, and reporting simply by sending an email, with our expert media analysts and human curators providing initial actionable intelligence within an hour.
Fullintel’s crisis media management services are on-call in real-time, any day of the week, and include human-curated news alerts with enriched metrics, custom reports with embedded KPIs, and end-of-day and end-of-crisis media analysis reports.
Fullintel crisis media monitoring is also backed by PredictiveAI, to help PR teams get in front of trending stories and scale themselves when there may be more tasks than hands to go around.
With 10+ Years of leadership in Marketing and Communications for Fortune 500 companies including General Electric, Subaru, and Intuit, Samuel Chen is behind Fullintel’s global brand through communication initiatives, strategic partnerships, and market engagement.