Since the dawn of the press release in 1906, the press release and public relations have been hopelessly tangled. It was a tragic train wreck that caused the first official press release to be born when the PR professional Ivy Lee convinced the Pennsylvania Railroad that they should make an official statement, and give reporters access to the scene.
In the U.S. a press release might get an average of 70 views in an entire week, and the average journalist only reads about 10 releases each day, but nothing quite catches the attention of a media source like bad news. If your company needs to do some press release damage control, then here are three tips to help you make the best out of an unfortunate situation.
Prepare for the worst.
A defensive PR press release should largely be already written. Many marketers will recommend a crisis communication plan that has several press release templates worked up in advance of a real crisis. For example, if your CEO is aging, you might have a press release roughly drafted to make the announcement of a sudden death, addressing issues such as interim leadership, the strength of the company, and so on. A crisis is not an ideal time to try and work on a news announcement from scratch, so having a template ahead of time can keep you from making any emotionally charged, or rash statements in a future press release.
With the bad should be a little bit of good.
Unfortunately, a business press release must sometimes be created for damage control, but this does not mean that it has to be all doom and gloom. For example, an event press release from Chrysler in 2007 announced the elimination of thousands of jobs and four models, but it used clever phrasing, and also included some good news to put a lighter spin on the issue. A defensive PR press release should, at all times, serve as a tool to keep your brand intact and to keep the trust of your customers.
Stick to the facts.
When you need to create a press release to address a problematic product or service, or to quell negative rumors that are dangerously close to being true, it is important to be honest. Using vague language, dancing around an issue, or editorializing the bad news will only alienate those that read your press release and leave the construction of the truth up to their imaginations. Use the hard facts whenever possible.
When you have bad news an appropriate PR press release is critical. About 64% of journalists keep up to date on daily news with the services of Google, or Yahoo, so having your press release online will be helpful to distributing your news faster. You might also consider a press release submission service to get your news into the hands of media sources that would be most interested in reporting on your story. Just remember to be prepared, share some good news, and keep to the facts.