Understanding how to deal with a business PR crisis in the right way is important, but prevention is better than cure. If you really want to protect your business, you need to know how to avoid a business PR crisis in the first place.
There are a lot of things that can cause embarrassing situations for a business, and knowing what these potential missteps are will help you to avoid them and stay in the good graces of your customers. These are some of the most common reasons that businesses face a PR crisis.
1 – Environmental Damage is a Business PR Crisis
There have been countless examples of companies getting into hot water because they caused damage to the environment. Oil spills in the ocean, for example, cause a huge backlash against fuel companies. However, you don’t have to spill barrels of oil into the ocean to find yourself in the middle of a crisis. Any environmental damage gives potential customers a poor impression of your business and many will avoid you as a result.
If your business handles volatile chemicals, like those often used in manufacturing, for example, it’s vital that you store and manage them in the right way. Use good quality industrial water tanks to store them safely, and always make sure that you follow guidelines on disposing of waste. It’s also important to consider the source of any materials that you use in your manufacturing and ensure that they are environmentally responsible.
All businesses should make an attempt to change their operations to reduce their impact on the environment as much as possible. Most companies are already doing this, which means that people take an unfavorable view of those that don’t. Your competitors can also use this against you in their marketing campaigns, so now is the time to start going green.
2 – Data Breaches are a Business PR Crisis
Data breaches are one of the most common causes of a PR crisis at the minute. Most businesses collect data about their customers, especially those that sell products online. It’s your responsibility to keep that data safe, and there is a lot of legislation in place to make sure that you do that. Unfortunately, all businesses are at risk of cyberattacks and, regardless of how well-protected you are, there is still a chance that you could lose customer data.
This is a huge problem for your business because you are breaking the trust of your customers. When their data is lost, they are at risk of fraud and they will hold you responsible for that. It is unlikely that those customers will deal with you again and once word gets out about the data loss, you will struggle to get new customers to trust you either.
You can drastically reduce the chances of data loss if you invest in security. Make sure that you have a well-staffed IT team on hand, or alternatively, use a managed IT service. It’s important that your systems are constantly monitored and updated if you want to stay protected. You also need to invest in the latest security software to protect against cyberattacks.
However, when taking these measures to protect yourself, don’t underestimate the impact of human error. A lot of breaches occur because people use weak passwords or send sensitive information via email without encrypting it. That’s why it is equally important to invest in training for your employees so they know how to handle sensitive data correctly.
3 – Mistreatment Of Employees is a Business PR Crisis
Consumers want the businesses they deal with to be ethical, especially when it comes to their employees. If a company is seen to be exploiting their employees or treating them unfairly, this can lead to a lot of bad press and many consumers will avoid buying from them. Not to mention that it can also get you in a lot of legal trouble. Issues surrounding the employee rights of Uber drivers are a prime example of this in recent years.
As a business owner, you have a moral responsibility to treat your employees well, regardless of any PR crisis. It also helps your business because people are far more productive when they feel valued and are paid a fair wage. So, think carefully about investing in employee benefits and increasing the amount of paid time off that you offer. Even though it costs money, it’s better for the business in the long term and consumers will see you in a more favorable light as a result.
4 – Criminal Activity is a Business PR Crisis
A business that is caught engaging in criminal activity will have a very hard time bouncing back. Most business owners assume that this doesn’t apply to them, but there is always a risk that one of your employees will do something illegal and the business can get caught up in it. If an employee gets into legal trouble about something unrelated to the business, it’s important that you know how to deal with it in the right way, so you can distance yourself from the scandal.
The situation could be even worse if a high-ranking employee somehow implicated the business in criminal activity without you knowing about it. That is why you have to be incredibly careful when hiring people and conduct background checks on all employees.
One of the most common types of criminal activity that businesses get in trouble for is fraud, and you want to ensure that this is not something that you are involved in. You can read an article that covers what fraud is and how common it is, as well as perspectives like diversyfund lawsuit reporting so that you can gain as much information as you can. The more you know about criminal behaviors, the easier it is to avoid them and avoid a PR nightmare.
5 – Secondhand Scandal is a Business PR Crisis
Even if your business hasn’t done anything wrong, you could still find yourself in trouble if you are working with a company that is in the midst of a PR scandal. Many people will find you guilty by association, so you have to be careful. When you are looking for a new supplier or partnering with another company for a marketing campaign, do your due diligence first. Check that there is nothing that is likely to cause a scandal in the future and reflect badly on you.
These are the most common causes of a PR crisis that your business needs to watch out for.
Mike Gaudreau is the owner of The Wealthy Boomers, a site devoted to helping seniors make money online. Mike resides in Montreal Canada.