Every organization – particularly nonprofits and religious organizations – should be ready for a public relations crisis, but sadly, very few actually are ready when it happens. In today’s digital world, there are many more opportunities for mistakes, moral compromises, and financial wrongdoing. This earlier post is a great conversation about what to do during a organizational crisis, but if – and when – something disastrous happens at your church, ministry, or nonprofit, there’s absolutely one thing you should never do:
Whenever a crisis happens at an organization, rumors begin. We shouldn’t be surprised because human beings are wired for curiosity. We want to know what happened, what’s going on, and what’s next. Channeled in the right direction, curiosity creates inventions, cures disease, and births great art. But channeled in the wrong direction, curiosity can destroy reputations, throw organizations into chaos, and undermine the common good. But there’s one way to stop unwanted speculation and rumor in it’s tracks:
If you’re a leader in politics, ministry, business, or in the media here’s something important you need to know: In today’s digital culture, you can’t hide anymore. In the old days, politicians could hide a mistress, TV evangelists could hide their jets or mansions, and anyone could hide a DUI conviction, an old arrest, and more. But today, the river of information that flows into Google is just too vast. That’s why I strongly recommend that if you’re in the public eye, you need to
Rarely a week goes by that you don’t see a public relations nightmare happening at a local church, ministry, or nonprofit. From a leader’s moral failing, to financial improprieties, to inappropriate sexual relationships, there are many ways a crisis can damage or destroy an otherwise great organization. And sometimes a crisis happens that’s not even your fault. That’s why I asked Kathy Lovin, who does a brilliant job managing Public Affairs and Communications for The Salvation Army USA Western Territory for some coaching on handling a crisis. Here’s her excellent advice:
Chris Christie may be finished as a presidential candidate, and maybe not. But either way, he experienced a potentially catastrophic event this past week with his now famous “Bridgegate” problems. While the vast majority of media critics and consultants agree that he’s handling the crisis very well so far (taking full responsibility, firing people at fault, having a 2 hour press conference to deal with questions), it certainly left him in a difficult position. It’s an instructional moment for leaders of all types for two reasons:
Last week, Freedom House Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was confronted by the incredible power and influence of the media. When a member of the church’s leadership team sent an email to the congregation asking for “only white people” to greet at its front doors in an effort to “bring [the church’s] racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line,” the leaked email set off a firestorm of criticism. The church, realizing the
If you missed my video during the Nine’s Conference, then you can view it here. I was asked to speak for a few minutes to Church, ministry, and nonprofit leaders about what they should be thinking about in order to avoid a “PR Nightmare.” Here’s what I recommended. I’d love to know your response:
Download episode 23: Crisis Public Relations: What Happens When Things Go Wrong (35 MB).
Although this podcast episode was originally produced a few years ago, it’s still a good reminder of the importance of handling public relations problems well. In this episode, I discuss “Crisis PR” – what do you do when something bad happens to your company, non-profit, or religious organization. It’s a short, information packed look at how to respond during a crisis, especially in the digital age. Learn how to respond effectively, and win back the public’s trust.