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8 Top Tips for Mitigating a PR Disaster

03/18/2015 08:26 am ET | Updated May 18, 2015

Marketing crises can -- and do -- happen to the best of us. To find out how best to handle even the toughest of situations, we asked eight entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) their top strategies.

1. Manage the Conversation

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If you find yourself in the middle of a PR disaster, it's important to speak out as quickly as possible so you can help frame and shape the conversation. For better or worse, silence is often associated with guilt. Don't shirk responsibility or try to hide. State your position and offer statistics or information to support it so you're an active participant rather than the subject of scrutiny. - Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

2. Test Your Messaging for Consistency With Your Brand's Voice

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If you find yourself in the middle of a PR disaster, test your responses for consistency. Sometimes the messaging crafted for you will sound like PR-speak and is not in line with your brand voice. Be true to the brand voice for written responses. If you're delivering the messaging on camera, make sure you're adequately media trained for the smoothest delivery of the information as possible. - Sydney Williams, Planet Green Socks

3. Be 100 Percent Transparent

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In the cover-ups I've seen in the news, companies either deny whatever scandal has befallen them or totally own up to their faults and take responsibility. I firmly believe that honesty is the best policy in any PR-related situation because lies and cover-ups are simply not sustainable or ethical. - Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

4. Learn Your Lesson

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Instead of trying to manage the crisis, you must show that you understand why it was a crisis to begin with. Getting educated and engaging with focus groups on how they'd ideally want to see you move forward is a great way to start. But when all else fails, commit yourself to never repeating the same mistake and allow yourself to be held accountable. Don't be defensive. - Cody McLain, WireFuseMedia LLC

5. Be Upfront

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The worst thing you can do after a major PR flop is avoid the issue entirely. Rather, look to take a proactive rather than reactive approach to the problem. Making yourself and your brand totally transparent will help restore trust to your company and show that you are more than willing to work through the issue. - Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing

6. Communicate Your Prevention Strategy

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Ensure that your stakeholders know what you have learned from the disaster and that you have taken clear steps to prevent the situation from arising again. Uber did a great job addressing this in India. When one of its drivers allegedly assaulted a woman, Uber immediately announced a series of new background checks to improve its verification standards. - Pratham Mittal, VenturePact

7. Stay Calm

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We're all human, and sometimes our campaigns are bound to go wrong. Whenever I've been put in a stressful situation, the first thing I do is forgive myself and make sure I don't panic. It's important to keep a clear mind when navigating these types of situations. I inform all the internal parties of the current situation and present a quick, transparent plan that we can act upon quickly. - Cassie Petrey, Crowd Surf

8. Take Your Medicine Early

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Many companies try to delay the response to see if the issue will 'blow over.' Most times, a real disaster will not and other resulting issues (i.e. employees looking to leave, competitors poaching clients) will occur. Thus, it makes sense to immediately acknowledge an issue and make the public mea culpa to help erase the inevitable secondary issues before they arise. - Kofi Kankam, Admit.me

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.