Building Resilience: PR Strategies for Crisis Management and Recovery


One of the main functions of a marketing communications agency is to manage a crisis. In these days of social media and digital marketing, a public relations crisis can occur at any time. It is how the PR company handles the crisis that reflects on the positive or negative image that the firm it represents will have to deal with in the long run.

Handling PR communication in a strategically correct way is important to handle a crisis effectively. It can reduce negative effects, maintain goodwill among the public and speed up response and recovery. It may  aid in reducing damage to property and even preventing loss of life in some instances.

This article will discuss the importance of crisis communication and look at lessons learned by PR firms who handled a crisis situation effectively.

How can a PR Campaign help with Crisis Communication

A crisis situation can make or break a company’s image and reputation. That is why it is exceedingly important to create a PR campaign to help respond to the crisis as soon as possible. You have to evaluate all possible scenarios concerning the crisis incident and who will be affected by it.

The information you will give must be clear and straightforward, and speak to the intended audience. It is better to designate a spokesman who has relevant and sufficient information about the crisis and has access to those who can give more information when necessary.

The company should definitely respond within 15 minutes of the crisis having occurred, or latest within the hour. It should also communicate on all channels, tailoring the messages as necessary. The spokesman should be able to respond to any questions from the press.

Lessons Learned From Successful PR Campaigns

We give below some of the popular PR campaigns run by marketing communications agencies and the lessons learned from them.

1.   Understand your audience.

You have to understand the thoughts and needs of your intended audience before you market to them. A key example of this would be the Nike ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. Colin’s views against police brutality were widely known across America, and Nike knew that this would resonate well with young socially conscious groups. It used this pain point to create a campaign that was highly successful with young viewers.

2.   Embrace creativity.

Sometimes you really have to take a creative approach to stand out from the crowd. The PR campaign to raise money for the ALS Association is a case in point. This disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that controls movement and breathing.

The PR campaign called the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ asked people to dump a bucket of ice-cold water on their heads and donate to the ALS Association. It created quite a furor on social media and raised a considerable sum for this cause.

3.   Use storytelling.

Using storytelling to promote your brand is one of the best PR strategies that you can use. Of course, it has to tie in with your brand values.

The story created by the ‘Like a Girl’ Always campaign showed girls and women confidently performing physical activities. It portrayed a positive image for females and removed gender-specific stereotypes. This positive and uplifting message was appreciated by all.

4.   Consider social influencers.

Social influencers have a definite and increasing role in promoting brand awareness and sales. This was utilized quite intelligently by Rihanna in her Fenty Beauty brand campaign. She used social influencers in the fashion industry like Bella Hadid and Huda Kattan to promote her brand. Thanks to this PR initiative, Rihanna’s brand was able to establish itself very quickly as a major player in the fashion industry. It was also one of the first that catered to the needs of women of color across many continents.

5.   Be genuine.

Authenticity and transparency are desirable attributes of any business. It gives a very positive image of the company and shows that it supports social causes. It makes for good brand reputation and trustworthiness.

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream used this approach to support the cause of social justice. The company launched a PR program called ‘Justice ReMixd’ that was aimed at raising awareness about justice reform. The brand was committed to donate part of the proceeds  of this campaign to support those organizations that were working on this issue. The brand used this approach to show that it was genuinely interested in supporting the cause of social justice by aligning this campaign with its values.

6.   Be consistent.

It is very necessary to be consistent in your brand messages and visual  appeal. The Coke campaign ‘Share a Coke, Share a Smile’ is a classic example of good brand messaging. The campaign involved Coke bottles with people’s names on them, that could be bought, shared and exchanged with each other.

The important characteristic of this campaign was that it was used consistently across all media channels, from TV ads to billboards to social media posts. By using such a consistent and coordinated approach, the soft drink company was able to create an image that resonated with consumers and became immensely popular as a result.

    7. Leverage social media

In today’s digital era, social media interaction has become an important part of every good media campaign. Whether you are using organic content or paid advertising, social media allows you to reach a massive audience and engage with them on a personal level.

Wendys’ used the Twitter platform for giving cheeky and humorous replies to its customers. This was called the ‘Twitter Roasts’ campaign and was quite popular because it engaged with the audience in a friendly way that was not obnoxious. In fact, it led to the brand building a strong and loyal following by engaging with them in a personal and entertaining manner.


We have looked at the issue of how to communicate effectively through popular and successful PR campaigns. These strategies have proven to be successful and timely, and their popularity and recall is a testament to their enduring value. Creating transparent, authentic and timely messages is a good way to ensure credibility and trustworthiness for any brand.