Friday, November 29, 2013

How 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' Teaches Us About Crisis PR

Much like Charlie Brown and friends, my holiday gatherings never go according to plan. Either the turkey is being burnt or the dogs are getting into someone's leftovers. My family has learned to always plan for the worst. 

As I waited for dinner to be served yesterday, I happened to stumble upon this PR Daily article that compared good ole Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving special to crisis PR, a segment of PR I actually have experience in thanks to my first internship with Jubelirer Strategies.

I have learned that in any type of situation, there is always room for mistakes. Problems do arise and mistakes unavoidably happen.

Luckily, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” offers at least three lessons to keep in mind the next time catastrophe strike:

1. Communicate your message clearly

Wha-wha-wa-wa-wha-wa. Charlie Brown and friends may have understood their teachers, but the rest of the world didn’t. When you’re talking, make sure to cover the bases so that all of your audiences are notified efficiently and effectively.

2. Turn a negative into a positive

Popcorn, pretzel sticks, jelly beans, and toast served up on a Frisbee isn’t exactly the dinner that Charlie Brown had in mind for his Thanksgiving guests, but when you put Snoopy and Woodstock in charge of catering, what else could you expect?

While it was less than ideal, the meal brought everyone together around the ping-pong table. In times of crises, PR pros need to keep a level head, shifting their focus to what new opportunities a turn of events can provide.

A brand can easily save face and perhaps earn a few extra points by addressing the problem straight-on and solving an issue in an orderly manner.

3. Deliver a well-worded public statement

That loud-mouth Patty is the natural spokesperson for the Peanuts gang. But just because someone is capable of speaking over everybody else doesn’t mean people are going to listen to them.

It’s important your go-to media representative is someone who can bring a calming, dignitary quality to the problem. Find the perfect Linus for the job, and you’ll be much better off.

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