PR and crisis management: A comprehensive guide for managers
Amy Daniels |March 24, 2016
Do you ever feel like your storage facility’s reputation isn’t in your control? Maybe it seems like your public image is always in someone else’s hands, whether it’s past renters leaving online reviews or local journalists sharing press releases. Or maybe it seems like the only time you could get media attention is by doing something big during a big crisis or event in your community.
Chances are that your facility has neither a phenomenal nor a terrible public reputation. You’re probably somewhere in the middle, not getting as much coverage as you would like, and wondering how you can change that.
By taking a proactive approach to PR and handling crises gracefully, you can do your part to keep good favor in the eyes of the public and your target market, no matter what’s going on in your community. Here’s how.
Manage your reputation before a crisis hits
The first step to proactively handling crises is to be proactive about your reputation before one even occurs. Here’s why: When a crisis hits your community, many local businesses will probably try to make it a PR event by publicly making grandiose donations and hosting charity events.
There’s, of course, nothing wrong with that, but you don’t want that to be your crutch for two main reasons. First, your voice will drown out in a sea of businesses doing the same thing. Second, and more importantly, your efforts may be seen as a little insincere if you’re using a crisis to boost your facility’s public image.
The solution? Manage your reputation year-round, through the good times and the bad. You can establish a good reputation for your storage facility and show your community everything you do well. And then, if a crisis were to hit, you can focus more on lending a helping hand than chasing the news coverage.
Here are a few key ways you can manage your reputation at all times:
Build relationships with local journalists. Write or contribute to press releases covering your facility events and/or new services and technology.
Show off your brand’s personality and values through social media platforms. Post and interact with your followers regularly.
Read your facility’s online reviews. Respond to all of them — both the good and the bad — with a positive and kind attitude.
Provide a spectacular customer service experience every time someone interacts with your facility, whether it’s in-person, over the phone, or online.
Throughout all of these, remember that sometimes managing your reputation is about more than portraying a good image. If you regularly receive negative reviews for having a dirty facility or your social media followers scoff at the overly-promotional posts you write, allow these perspectives to help you identify problem areas that your facility can improve.
Sometimes it takes a second eye to pinpoint areas we can work on, and listening to this feedback can help your facility become even better over time.
Look for ways to help small crises
Hopefully your community will never have to deal with a huge natural disaster, man-made disaster, or other sudden emergency. But, if you look around, are there any smaller, isolated “crises” that you could do your part in helping?
A few examples may include: * A local resident facing terminal illness or recovery after an accident
A family dealing with the loss of a parent or child
A high unemployment rate and/or a large homeless population
A school or youth program with inadequate funding
All around America, families are struggling to bring home enough money, people are finding out that they have incurable diseases, and kids are failing to get out, exercise, and build social skills. It doesn’t need to take an epic disaster to pitch in and help.
The #1 post of all time on the storEDGE blog is about preventing live-in renters at a storage facility. This may point to the fact that many people feel helpless and are looking for solutions to low income and homelessness. Even better, it may mean that your facility is in the perfect position to help.
You can take steps as small as partnering up with local shelters and food kitchens to large ones like offering a transition assistance program, providing discounts on self storage to families in need, or holding a fundraiser to help a local charity.
When a crisis hits, there is power in numbers
Again, hopefully your community will never be faced with a disaster or emergency. However, if this were to happen, it happens all too often that businesses exploit the crisis to get some press coverage. This is unfortunate because, even though they may be helping by donating money or services, their efforts could be better spent focusing exclusively on helping the situation rather than having a “two-for-one” mentality.
Along with managing your reputation all the time and looking for ways to help small crises, you can avoid this mentality and do the most good possible by partnering up. In times of crisis, there will be organizations, committees, and non-profits offering up ideas and resources to help. When your focus isn’t, “How can I do something huge and completely unique so that I can get my business in the news?,” you can spend your time and energy getting involved with these programs.
Maybe you can play a lead role by rallying local businesses to volunteer at a food pantry, or perhaps you can pool your money together with your business partners to make a large contribution for the cause. Whatever the specifics may look like, remember that a crisis is not your business’ time to shine; it’s your time to help. Freeing yourself of this perspective allows you to do everything you can do provide meaningful contributions to the situation.
Your facility reputation is an ongoing work-in-progress
Reputation management is such an important part of managing your business. If you don’t get involved, you leave the fate of your reputation in the hands of others.
Instead, be intentional about your reputation at all times and with every interaction. When big crises do hit, you can let your ongoing reputation speak for itself, roll your sleeves up, and do your part to help your community move forward.