Managing Your Retirement Community’s Response to Bad News

Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

Companies make or break a reputation for themselves not when everything is going smoothly, but when things get tough. That’s especially true when faced with negative news coverage, but also in the face of bad online reviews or comments on social media. According to Inc. Magazine, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, making, online forums and social platforms a powerful source of information for consumers. This means a proactive approach to supporting your brand reputation is more important than ever. 

Whether you’re facing viral media coverage around an unfortunate incident or an unhappy comment from a resident on social media, a well-led public relations team will be your compass in the storm. When you’re actively managing your brand reputation, you are better equipped to tackle issues the very moment they arise. No one company will ever be immune, so make sure your team is ready to handle bad press before it finds you with these four tips. 

Devise a Plan

The best time to prepare for a crisis is before the crisis. That’s why the creation of a crisis communications plan should be the first thing on your to-do list. A crisis communications plan is the difference between being the fire station or the house catching fire when bad news strikes. This critical, living document outlines communication and response procedures for a crisis situation, whether that’s negative media coverage or responding to a storm of resident complaints. It establishes a spokesperson, identifies who needs to be part of the communications or approval process, and provides an action plan to address all aspects of media, to include mass media (TV/radio/newspaper), social media (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, etc.) and review websites (Google/Yelp). Without this roadmap, your community will be prone to mistakes, missteps or miscommunication at the most sensitive time. However, with an effective response strategy, negative press can be managed, mitigated and oftentimes contained before it ever gets out of hand. 

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything in a crisis and that’s especially true today. In today’s digital world, the moment you open your mouth for an interview or post a reply to an online comment, your words can potentially travel around the globe within moments. You often need to act quickly, but in a coordinated fashion. That’s where your crisis communications plan comes into play. 

Before anyone responds, quickly gather your public relations team together for a quick assessment of the situation and review your crisis communications plan. Identify what level of response is required, designate who should communicate to which audience and then move forward quickly with a coordinated response. You’ll want to ensure what you’re saying to the media aligns with what’s being said on social or being told directly to residents or family members who call in with questions. Take a breath and ensure your message is aligned with your organization’s crisis plan, your values and the situation at hand, but don’t wait too long. While you want to respond carefully, realize that the longer the void the more others will shape your story for you.

“No Comment” is a No-no

How many times have you heard someone in a crisis utter the phrase “no comment” and later thought to yourself, “I wonder whatever happened to that story?” That’s right…never! The no comment response will get you more media attention than the 2019 Capital One data breach because it gives the immediate impression that you’re hiding something or already guilty. 

This is another example of why the crisis communications plan is so vital. Developing an outline of key scenarios and responses beforehand will be crucial to have when a crisis occurs. The best approach for online commentary is to try and move the conversation offline. However, providing a simple response first to let residents know they’ve been heard can go a long way for your brand reputation. If you’re facing media questions, your spokesperson should always be prepared to share a concise statement at the very minimum to say you are aware of the situation and a resolution is underway. Even if you’re not ready with all the facts, crafting a short one-liner is much better than no comment at all. Plus, it will save you from nervously sharing some long-winded, complicated response that will only lead to more questions you’re not ready to answer. 

On that same note, you never want anyone outside of your primary communications team to say something completely incorrect, or worse start answering questions they are not at liberty to answer. Be sure to distribute a brief guideline for the entire company that will help direct media questions to the appropriate person. It’s also important to realize you have that internal audience as well who needs to hear that you are addressing an issue.

Analyze Before You Finalize

For some companies, once the dust settles it’s 1, 2, 3…break. WAIT! Although dealing with a public crisis is stressful, and the mere act of survival may be enough for you to give out a round of high fives and call it a day, take some time to reflect before your team resumes regularly scheduled programming. 

Gather your team for a round of Q&A over lunch. Think about what your team could have done differently, or better. Could the situation have been avoided or resolved sooner? If so, how can you adjust your process for the future? In the next few weeks and months ahead, what positive stories can you share that will help you rise from the ashes? Once you’ve hashed out all the details, grab that precious crisis communications plan of yours and get your team prepared for the next crisis. You never know when it will ignite. 

McDonald’s

Marketing / Communications

We help one of the world’s best brands increase sales and guest counts through reputation management and content marketing that successfully maximizes paid media efforts.
 

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Request Your Guide to Ghidotti!

We’d love to start a conversation with you about how we can create results for you. First step? Request your very own Guide to Ghidotti to learn more about our public relations and content marketing firm. This is a look inside our agency and will give you a good feel for who we are, what we do and how we partner with our clients to move the needle.

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Are You the Next Rock Star on the Ghidotti Team?

The Ghidotti Team is overflowing with full-fledged rock stars. Sure – we’re looking for the best, brightest, most creative, most organized. You get the picture. But what we REALLY want is someone who we can laugh with, depend on, learn from and do great work together. Learn more about who we’re looking for and what you can expect.

Ghidotti is currently hiring for three positions listed below – Account Executive, Account Supervisor and Media Relations Manager.

Account Executive Job Description: 

In the Account Executive position, emphasis is placed on growing independent work within the areas of project management, client relations, media relations, digital/marketing, and/or lead generation among other skills. You are the face to our clients and will play an integral role in daily communication and should be able to demonstrate tactical excellence. 

  • Write client and internal correspondence effectively and with limited supervision.
  • Successfully plan and execute client activities such as media tours, digital and social campaigns, business missions and/or other special events. 
  • Proactively identify blog content story ideas and work with the supervisor to develop. 
  • Develop relevant blogs, e-newsletters and website content effectively and with limited supervision. 
  • Successfully manage independently the execution of all client content calendars, which can include media relations pitch calendars, blogs, social content and paid media campaigns.
  • Exhibit competency and efficiency in drafting copy for client marketing materials and/or campaigns, such as website content, e-newsletters, collateral materials, paid media campaigns, etc. 
  • As it relates to social/digital media, regularly suggest ideas, manage the planning, and comfortably execute campaigns on behalf of clients. Efficiency with Canva, a plus!
  • Assist in the management of interns, when applicable. 
  • Be proficient in WordPress.
  • Easily navigate agency platforms such as Cision, TVEyes, Sprout Social, Sprinklr.
  • Depending on the needs of the service area, responsibilities may extend beyond the items above as skill sets, client contracts and other extenuating circumstances dictate.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Account Supervisor Job Description: 
In the Account Supervisor position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or creative/strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives.
  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on at least three clients.
  • Manage the implementation of work plans and ensure client deliverables are successfully met on deadline.
  • Play a leadership role in the sales process by identifying additional services to sell to existing clients and assisting with RFP responses, new business proposals, presentations, etc. with senior leadership or independently.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients.
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.
  • Begin to play a role in the agency’s marketing efforts, guiding aspects of certain campaigns and/or helping to execute in their areas of expertise.

Account Services: 

  • Play a clear leadership role in the planning and execution of integrated marketing campaigns for clients.
  • Develop and write comprehensive strategic marketing plans for clients.
  • Handle vendor contracts and ensure proper billing.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of successfully meeting deadlines and timelines.
  • Handle day-of logistics on behalf of clients, responding quickly and effectively.
  • Assist in providing leadership and professional development on client relations, helping team members improve their skills in managing conflict, presentations, sales, etc.

Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns, marketing collateral, etc.
  • Oversee the development of marketing materials and branding campaigns.
  • Manage creative marketing campaigns on behalf of clients.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms, and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for proposals, new business proposals and current clients’ marketing campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Media Relations Manager Job Description: 

In the Media Relations Manager position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the public relations industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives. 

Main Responsibilities – General: 

  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on media relations client accounts.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients. 
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.

Main Responsibilities – Media Relations: 

  • Develop strategic media relations plans, direct management and outreach for client accounts with the supervision of Senior Leadership.
  • Perform with Senior Leadership to prepare a plan for strategic crisis communications.
  • Manage and facilitate the execution of media relations outreach for special events, programs and major initiatives.
  • Perform as spokesperson and coordinates official responses to media inquiries.
  • Conduct media training with clients in preparation for external media interviews. 
  • Support framing and development of main message points for better positioning prior to media interviews.
  • Prepare speeches, talking points and varied communications materials assisting client spokespersons.
  • Write pitches, backgrounders, press releases, key messages and blog posts.
  • Manage and monitor reporter hotline, client media relations calendar, metrics, media relations processes and press release approvals.
  • Propose ideas proactively for media pitches to stimulate media coverage.
  • Consistently pitch stories and secure strategic media placements assisting client reputation and business goals.
  • Manage and supervise media events along with initiatives defining company stories.
  • Identify proactive stories for trade, business as well as consumer media across multiple client industries.
  • Develop and maintain close media relations to improve press efforts.
  • Identify brands promoting opportunities and improve awareness of services and products.

Main Responsibilities – Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns (webinar/live stream events), etc.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for new business proposals and current clients’ PR campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Rock Star Environment

We strive to create a fun, engaging atmosphere where high fives, chicken minis, and celebrations are commonplace. We lift one another up, honor achievements and reward hard work.

  1. Professional Enrichment

    Whether instructor-led, web-based or sharing during Fireside Friday, we are always learning more!

  2. Community Engagement

    We love the state of Arkansas. Our team enjoys outings to locally-owned businesses and pride ourselves on community involvement. In addition, employees are often offered free tickets to community events to get out and enjoy life with friends and family.

  3. Team Building

    Quarterly adventures for the team!

  4. Winter Recess

    We shut this place down at the holidays so we can all rest, relax and reinvigorate for the new year.

  5. Summer Fridays

    We get an early jump on the weekend every Friday during the summer.

  6. Volunteer Time Off (VTO)

    Along with your PTO, you also get VTO to use to support your favorite charity or organization.

Does this describe you?

Apply for one of our open positions or just send us an email letting us know why you should be part of this Rock Star team. Email bethany@ghidotti.com.