It happens to the best. One mistake spirals into a public relations disaster and before you know it, there’s a fire on your hands — one that a fire extinguisher can’t put out. What do you do? Restaurant owners have so much to worry about, learning PR basics can easily fall to the end of the list. Here are five tips for putting out PR fires in a restaurant business.
This is a step your business can’t afford to skip. Hardly a day passes without a crisis, but a PR crisis is a very visible and impactful problem that has to be solved publicly. When creating a crisis management plan it’s important to keep in mind the main goal: getting things back to normal as quickly as possible. Think about what that might require in terms of actions, team members, metrics, and time. Create a plan of action for potential scenarios, assign roles and responsibilities, and set measurable targets.
This step is closely related to the previous one. Your plan can only be as good as the people executing it. A crisis management team typically consists of a PR manager, a social media manager, a human resources manager, and an attorney. Each member must understand their role and have experience handling a PR crisis.
The worst thing you can do is nothing, in the hopes that it will all just blow over. What often ends up happening is the opposite: blowing up. In our age of social media, news travels fast. The more scandalous and shocking, the greater the public speculation and the stronger the reaction. Get ahead of the issue, control the fire and don’t let others speak for you. You can use the traditional method of communication, issuing a press release, or speak directly to your customers on social media. Either way, the PR team and marketing team should collaborate on crafting the message and tracking the public’s response.
Perhaps the only thing harder to control than a PR crisis is your own reaction. You’ve worked so hard to build a successful business, it’s hard to imagine that one mistake could make it all crumble like a house of cards. The best thing you can do during a PR crisis is to focus on the facts and remain professional. Turn to your crisis management team to help you stay objective and keep your cool.
Nobody likes a leader who doesn’t keep their word. Your customers and employees look to you to guide the business and deliver on your promises. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to please everyone. Whatever the outcome of the PR crisis, let one thing be clear to everyone around you: you keep your word and are committed to following through.