Social Solitude: A PR Crisis... what's that?

Act fast and take your punishment. I remember reading an article several months ago on Forbes Magazine’s Web site that told readers to do just that. The piece was a self-proclaimed “Crash Course In Crisis Public Relations,” and I remember thinking to myself, this sounds way too easy. Now don’t worry, this blog entry isn’t a rehashed intern’s perspective to Sara’s (absolutely true) “It Just Looks Easy” entry, but rather, I’d like to touch a little on just what exactly “crisis” PR means.

We have a running joke here at Sara Brady Public Relations, and it cracks me up every time someone brings it up. We like to tell each other we’re in “crisis-mode” or arbitrarily ask what the “crisis of the day” is going to be. Now I can already guess that such statements don’t sound…. funny at all. But I’ll ask that you take my word for it. You see, a real client crisis could truly materialize at any given moment during the day.

Can you imagine how exciting it is to be smack-dab in the middle of a crisis, watching and helping a PR practitioner rush to the aid of a drowning company’s reputation, and therefore, its very existence? Yes, very dramatic, I know. But I only bring this up because I’d like to draw attention to the fact that because of the very nature of public relations, it is a 24/7 job.

So when Sara told me last week that she was going on a 4-day vacation to New York City, my first thought was not to ask if I was invited (though that would have been great too), but rather, who’s going to do all the PR?!? :?

Don’t get me wrong - of course Sara had contingency plan after contingency plan set in place in the unlikely event that a true crisis did arise during her 2-weekday absence, including numerous professional practitioners who were standing by to assist in any emergency. But what stood out to me the most was the fact that such actions were even necessary. After all, she was only going to be gone for two days.

Now I know it’s been overstated by just about everyone, but the fact remains – we live in a 24/7 news media environment. And that environment forces those of us in the PR field to, in essence, be on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Wouldn’t it be nice if PR followed a tidy 9 to 5 schedule.

But it’s the mystery that makes it all so fun! Ashleigh Brilliant (now isn’t that a great last name), whom the Wall Street Journal revered as “history's only full time, professional published epigrammatist” put it best when he said that more people need to

“Try to relax and enjoy the crisis.”

And that’s exactly what I did those two days Sara was off enjoying the Big Apple. I sat down, caught up on work and waited for a phone call that would gear the firm into our long-awaited “crisis mode.”

And though that call never came (darn it), I was certainly poised and ready to tell our client to “act fast and take your punishment.” Thoughtfully, Anthony-Ray