In today’s digital world, where news travels at a lightning speed can spread like wildfire, a potential PR crisis can very quickly become your worst nightmare. That’s why it is critical that you take all the right steps when a potential PR crisis arises so that you can maintain a positive company image and prevent any negative information from damaging your credibility and bottom line.

Hopefully, you will never have to go through such an intense situation but being prepared and knowing exactly what to do in case your company faces a PR crisis will help you successfully avert it and safeguard your brand.

With that in mind, take a look at several golden rules that you should absolutely follow to prevent and avert a potential crisis before it spirals out of control.

Develop a Crisis Management Plan

Having a crisis management plan in place will help you always be fully prepared for any kind of negative situation that could hurt your business. Sit down with the stakeholders in your company and take the time to develop an effective plan that will tackle any possible crisis scenario that may take place.

Establish protocols for handling all those scenarios, so that you don’t let things go from bad to worse if you find yourself at the center of a crisis with no idea of how to respond.

Be sure the plan contains all the possible talking points and reactive statements that you will use should a crisis arise. Your PR managers should practice those talking points on a regular basis so that they always stay fully prepared and know exactly what to do.

There are plenty of crisis management firms with teams of PR experts who know exactly what to do to minimize the damage of a PR crisis, so you should definitely have one on your speed dial, just in case.

Be Transparent and Take Responsibility

If you did something wrong, you should admit it and take full responsibility for your actions. People are generally much more forgiving when a company accepts responsibility and publicly apologizes for a particular incident, so never try and cover your mistakes, as it would only backfire and create more damage.

Be transparent, be proactive with your statements and messages, and always be accountable. Own up to your mistakes, because that is precisely what will make you a great leader and separate you from those who fail. Take back control by immediately issuing a press release after a potential incident, and be sure to post it on social media as well to get the message across and prevent a potential social media firestorm.

Even if you did nothing wrong, speak openly to the public. Don’t say “no comment” if you happen to be still assessing the situation. Tell it as it is and you will maintain your integrity and credibility.

Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

This is very important because it will help you always do the right thing. Press pause and step back to properly assess the situation. Ask yourself what you would do if a particular incident happened to you and how you would actually feel.

Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes is one of the most crucial things for averting a PR nightmare, because it will help you see a whole new perspective on things. Take a long look in the mirror and try and see yourself as a customer of your company. What would you want the company to do to solve your problem? The answer will help you easily put out the fire before it spreads and burns down your entire company.

Every PR crisis is different, but these rules will help you get off on the right foot and effectively manage a negative situation that may come your way. Your company’s reputation may take a huge hit, but sticking to these rules will definitely help you minimize the damage and make sure your company victoriously rises like a phoenix.