These tips could help you survive an outrage outbreak
Though public outrage has always been a driving force in PR crises, I think we’d all agree it’s become a whole new beast over the last few years. Not only is it easier to share negative opinions than ever before, but it’s also more rewarding. Social media users provide immediate reinforcement to those expressing outrage with a quick hit of likes, shares, and supportive responses that encourages the cycle. Even traditional media is getting in on the game as many major newscasts now make a habit of highlighting particularly outraged posts in reaction to breaking crises.
If you’ve never faced an outraged audience before it’s only a matter of time, but don’t panic! Here are four ways you can stay calm when faced with public outrage:
- Have a plan and be prepared. As with any predictable crisis situation, if you know you’ll be the target of public outrage at some point it only makes sense to prepare in advance. Creating a plan and ensuring your people know how to use it will reduce the initial sense of panic.
- Quantify and qualify. Is this one vocal person or is it truly a concerning percentage? Are these actually your stakeholders or are they random internet users? Is the damage limited to reputation or are we already seeing a monetary loss? Questions like these will help ensure you have the info you need to prevent stressful surprises.
- Find the source. Though the outrage is often disproportionate to the facts of the matter, in our company’s 30+ years assisting over 1,000 clients we can say there’s always something to be learned from complaints. As much as it may pain you at first, taking a hit to your self-image will be a lot stressful than an extended outbreak of outrage.
- Take care of yourself and your people. Being a target of outrage comes with a heavy mental and physical toll. Between extra hours at the office, late-night strategy sessions, and strain of seeing their brand’s name in headlines too many forget to take care of themselves. Even in a crisis two donuts isn’t dinner, and getting up to stretch takes just a minute or two. You don’t need to put together an impromptu aerobics class but helping people stay fed, hydrated, and mobile means more productivity and less stress.
Though everyone copes with tough times in different ways these tips should be a good start. Facing public outrage is never going to be a Zen experience but in a situation where you’ll need to be functioning at 100% it’s essential you keep stress to a manageable level.