Tips & Talk 29 – How to Manage Through a PR Crisis

The expression when facing a PR CrisisYou may never encounter a PR crisis. But if you do, response time and properly addressing the issue are key to upholding the reputation of your business and retaining your sales growth.

Spoiler Alert: Sometimes it’s best not to do anything.

Find out step by step how to analyze the situation and determine if and what the right actions are so you can smoothly move through what is always an uncomfortable situation.

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Thank you so much! Sue

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Transcript
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Hi there.

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It's Sue.

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And thanks for joining me for tips and talk day.

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These are bite-sized topics that I pull from community questions and

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things that I'm observing in the world of handmade small business.

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If you'd like to submit a topic,

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DME, over on Instagram at gift biz unwrapped today,

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we're going to talk about managing through a PR crisis.

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This is something you can have in your back pocket,

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so that if you are in a situation where you need

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it, it's going to be here,

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ready, and available for you managing through a PR crisis.

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Something happens,

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you weren't expecting.

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And now what,

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how do you manage through it?

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Do you even address it at all?

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These are all the things that we're going to cover.

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This might apply for you as a maker in a couple

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of different ways.

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First off,

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if you have some type of an ingredient in your product

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that has started to make people sick or anything,

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that's in the news,

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that's associated directly with your product or some element that's included

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in your product.

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That could be an issue and a reason why this would

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become a PR crisis for you.

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Another thing could be if you've been associated with somebody and

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their behavior is just not acceptable,

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this may be something you need to address.

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Let's talk through.

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What would you do if this type of situation comes up

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for you?

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I have three different things that I want you to think

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about to gauge what your level of response is going to

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be. The first thing is what's your level of connection with

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the situation at hand.

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It could be very distant in that case.

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I wouldn't even bring it up.

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There's no reason that you need to do anything at all.

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You could have a moderate connection.

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In other words,

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some of your customers know that you're linked with this situation

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or this person,

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or you could have a high connection,

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a very obvious direct link with that person or company.

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So that's the first thing you look at.

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What is my level of connection with the situation distant,

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moderate, or high?

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The second thing that you do is think about your position

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on the issue.

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Do you support the position?

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Do you feel like,

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yeah, I wasn't really happy about this,

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so I'm not liking it,

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but I get that you made a mistake and we'll be

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okay. Or is the situation such that you feel like you

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need a major disconnect.

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You do not want to be attached or you feel like

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you need to disconnect from the situation or person entirely.

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So this is the second thing that you want to analyze.

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What's your position on the issue.

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And then based on that,

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then you decide what your actions are going to be.

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The reason this is important is because want to make sure

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that any response that you have is in line with the

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level of intensity or severity of the infraction.

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If you're not really connected with the person to a high

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degree and their infraction is minimal,

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I wouldn't do anything at all.

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Because if you do something you're actually calling attention to the

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situation versus you not being connected with it in the first

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place, in terms of number one into your level of connection

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and your position on the issue.

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Sometimes it's best just not to do anything.

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But if you have a strong connection with this person saying

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nothing could suggest that you're condoning the behavior.

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You want to be careful with that as well.

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So you've got to think of while he's doing nothing,

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sending the wrong signal to my customers.

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Once you've judged this.

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And you've decided if you first off need to do anything

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about it.

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And if you do,

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to what level here are some different types of actions that

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you might take first is totally pulling the product either out

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of your inventory.

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Certainly if you're a baker and there's an ingredient that has

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started making people sick comes with some health ramifications,

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anything like that,

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that's pretty obvious you're going to stop using that product.

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And if customers knew that you were using that product,

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then you probably going to want to make a statement that

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yes, in the past,

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we've used that ingredient.

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Now that we know that it's not healthy and has been

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pulled out,

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it has been replaced.

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If you have something that you've included in a tangible product

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that maybe is now dangerous,

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or has a metal that's been found not to be good

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or something like that,

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or even a business that represents that product has come under

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some scrutiny,

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that's to a level that you don't condone,

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then you're going to address it.

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You're going to talk about it with your clients,

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you're going to address it.

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And then you're going to say what your action is going

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to be.

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And this is the last part is either yes,

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you're going to address the situation or no,

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you aren't,

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but if you are going to address it,

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here's how I was related with it.

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Here's how we feel about it.

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And here's what we're going to do about it.

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This is how you manage through a PR crisis.

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I bring this up because this recently came to the forefront

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with my business.

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I've had a couple of situations like this,

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where there have been PR questions,

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but this particular time it ended up being a little bit

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more severe because as I ran it through the levels of

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analysis, I decided that,

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yeah, this is something that I'm going to need to address.

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So what happened is I had a guest on one of

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my podcasts who is intimately involved in the maker world.

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And I didn't agree with the behavior.

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It was so off acceptance to me that there wasn't even

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a question about whether this behavior was appropriate or not,

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but I needed to sit back and think like,

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how do I actually handle this to me?

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It was serious enough that I couldn't just not do anything.

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I needed to make a statement and I needed to take

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action. So here I was associated with this particular person,

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great interview.

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Honestly, it was so good.

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I'm sure a lot of you who follow the podcast would

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have heard it,

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but I needed to pull it down because even being associated

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in that way,

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looked like I was condoning what had become big news.

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So I ended up pulling the podcast down in its entirety,

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but I had links everywhere.

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So if I pulled that podcast link and made that a

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dead link,

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that wouldn't be good for SEO.

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Wouldn't be good if people went searching for it,

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et cetera.

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Because, you know,

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over time you forget where all of your links are to,

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you know,

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if you're promoting certain products that you make,

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you don't remember if maybe they're on an Instagram post or

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in some type of collateral material.

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So what I did instead is I scripted out a response

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to the situation,

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explaining why the episode has been pulled down,

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not totally bashing anybody,

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but being very stern on how I feel about a situation

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and then explaining why it was no longer there.

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And if you want to hear it's just a two and

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a half minute response that is in episode number 1 58.

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And what I did was I left the link there so

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that I won't have any dead links,

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but if someone goes back and they're looking for it,

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they're going to hear my response.

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Instead of hearing the interview.

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The other thing is I was an affiliate with this company.

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And again,

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I felt like my linkage with that affiliation no longer aligned

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with my core values.

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So I pulled the affiliate link down as well.

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Will I lose money because of that play probably,

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but it was something that I felt I needed to do.

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My other suggestion for you,

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if you're ever met with a PR crisis is to try

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and take your emotion out of it because you are still

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representing and are the face and the leader of your brand.

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And you want to make sure that you're positioning any response

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that you have in the light of the reputation that you

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want to see.

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If I started complaining about that particular person,

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not addressing it in a professional light,

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I guess is the best way for me to say that

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that would come back to me.

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So the emotions behind it are not what I want to

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be sharing.

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Maybe I'll share that privately with people here in the office.

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If I chat with you,

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one-on-one, if we're over in my private Facebook group,

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maybe we would talk about it.

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You want to make sure that the way you're presenting yourself

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is in a professional light,

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the way people would want to see you stay logical.

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And clearly you can have emotion.

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If you're disappointed,

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you can say that if you're totally against a situation,

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yeah. Say that,

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but getting into nitty-gritty or dirty talk or bashing people,

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none of that,

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the situation with a PR crisis is you want to act

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quickly. You want to take your actions and response quickly in

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a logical way.

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This may not be something you address.

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Even in this whole year.

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You may never address it in the whole entire lifetime of

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your business.

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But if you do,

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this is how you work through it on a logical level

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and take action the way you need to and represent the

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situation to your audience in the best light that you can

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so that you remain a leader and someone that people want

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to follow.

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Let me summarize once again,

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the steps that you were take first off the application would

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be if you have a product or an ingredient that you're

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using that is meeting with some controversy,

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the second might be an association you have with a person

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who heaven forbid has committed a crime or their behavior is

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less than representative of what you would want associated with your

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business. Anything that that's negative press that could spin around and

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point to your business.

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I consider a PR crisis.

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That's the definition.

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Here are the three steps that you would take.

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The first one is gauge the level of connection that you

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have with the ingredient or person.

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Is it distant?

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Is it moderate or is it high?

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Secondly, what's your position on the issue?

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Do you support what they did?

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Do they get a hand slap?

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You're not really happy about it,

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but you're willing to give them a second chance or is

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it a line in the sand that they have crossed?

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It is just too much for you.

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So what is your personal take on the situation from there?

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You guide what your reaction is going to be,

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and you want to keep your reaction in line with where

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you stand on one and two,

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if you are kind of disconnected or almost totally disconnected from

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this person,

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and you would give them a hand slap,

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maybe you are not going to do anything because you don't

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need to call to light,

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to all your customers.

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The fact that you're associated with something that's negative,

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if they wouldn't know it in the first place,

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but if it's high,

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you're very connected with that person.

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And you totally don't agree with what's happened.

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Not doing anything,

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sends the statement that you accept that behavior and that can

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affect your business and your sales options that you have of

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what to do,

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pulling the products or switching out an ingredient for something different

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who knows,

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maybe it'll even be better.

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And then a verbal statement.

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You leave emotion out of it.

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You act logically by going through this,

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you know what action to take and you can take that

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action right away and then carry on and move forward with

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business. That's what I've got for you with handling PR crisises.

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That's a wrap.

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I'm a get to the point kind of girl.

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And this is what you can expect from these quick midweek

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sessions. Now it's your turn go out and fulfill that dream

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of yours.

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Share your handmade products with us.

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We want them,

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