In COMM 2333, Public Relations Applications class today, we learned about what to do as a Public Relations professional when a crisis arises. Crises, which are ultimately unavoidable in any career field, can happen at any time. The way a Public Relations professional responds has a huge impact on how much damage is actually done.

A crisis is defined as “a nonroutine event that risks desired visibility that in turn threatens significant reputational damage.” The four different categories of a crisis are:

  • Meteor
  • Predator
  • Breakdown
  • Lingering

One specific crisis that comes to mind occurred in the media recently on the popular social networking site, Facebook. Nestle’s Facebook Fan Page was subjected to accusations from Greenpeace, stating that they were “importing palm oil from suppliers who are destroying Indonesian rainforests that are home to endangered orangutans.” Within a matter of days, Nestle’s Facebook page received massive amounts of traffic with many negative comments about the company posted on the page. The PR department learned a very important lesson from this: since social media is so hard to control, it must be monitored very closely, or else it can easily backfire; risking the entire reputation of the company.