By Mark Macias
I don’t like the sight of guns. Heck, I don’t even like talking about guns, but the NRA has delivered a great crisis communications lesson for any business facing a branding crisis.
For the sake of clarification, I am not defending the NRA and their statements over any school shootings. My position on gun control would deter me from ever consulting the NRA and their public image problem.
That is one of the first things you should research on a crisis communications agency before you hire them. Does the PR agency or crisis firm believe in your cause? Does the crisis consultant believe what you say?
That’s important because you want to hire a crisis communications team that believes in your cause or you risk dissent when the image debate turns to ethical questions.
I have consulted many nonprofits and politicians through crisis campaigns. It was important for me to believe in their cause and purpose because my advice frequently needed to mesh with my values.
If you own a nightclub and you’re facing a crisis communications problem in the media following a sale to minors, you don’t want to hire a Mormon who thinks it’s a sin to drink alcohol. You want to hire a publicist who understands the value of your service and believes in your club.
Sure, that is an extreme example, but the best examples in life are clear and cut. Your situation may not be as lucid as the nightclub example, but you should 100 percent make sure your publicist believes in your cause.
Now that the NRA has hired a team of crisis communications experts, here is my perspective on what they did wrong as a crisis consulting agency.
“Don’t Cast Blame”
Wayne LaPierre with the NRA quickly blamed the media, video games and even crazy people for their public relations problem. That’s a mistake.
The NRA thinks Americans should have the right to carry assault rifles that were designed for war. They need to take responsibility for that position and not blame others.
If you are in a crisis situation, don’t blame the victim or the shooter. Turn the situation into your favor by presenting why your side has a positive view. The media won’t report the good side of your story unless you present it and it is your job to communicate why your service helps others.
“Bring a solution”
If you are facing a crisis communications situation, you always want to bring resolve or closure to the problem. It lets the public believe (and hopefully it is the truth) that the problem won’t happen again.
The NRA tried to bring closure to this problem by recommending schools place armed guards as security.
Here is what one parent wrote on Facebook, after hearing that statement.
”Hey Mr. NRA ****…our banks are protected by armed guards and they still get robbed. One armed cop on each campus won’t stop crazy folks from going there. Your press conference was a joke, and you are a joke of a man. Blame the video games, movies and music…yet not offer a single solution to try to keep your precious lil gun out of crazy folks hands.”
ABOUT MACIAS PR
MACIAS PR was founded in 2009 by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. Marketing peers named MACIAS PR the Strategic PR Firm of the Year while Finance Monthly named us the Top PR consulting firm from 2015 to 2021. City & State Magazine has named Mark Macias a Top 50 Political PR Player in New York. Click on the green button at the bottom to schedule a call.