By Mary Elder

This post is part of the Conference Series, where 2016 PRSSA National Conference attendees from AU PRSSA reflect on the lessons they learned from the conference’s events and panels. Click here for more conference blogs.

In this day of age, a crisis can happen anytime, anywhere. The moments after a crisis can define a person or company for years to come, which is why it is imperative to get it right. At the 2016 PRSSA National Conference in Indianapolis, two veteran PR professionals spoke about the importance of handling a crisis.

An employee shooting off an inappropriate tweeting using the company account. A senior member of a company embezzling. Sex Scandals. Injury. Simply put, a crisis is something that disrupts a company or investors.

When faced with a crisis, the most important thing is to stay calm, avoid drama, and find the facts. It helps to search to see if other companies have faced similar situations to establish what exactly the current situation is and how it should be handled.

Another important question to answer is will the crisis be a regional issue? National? International? Pointing out who exactly the crisis will affect helps decide a plan of action.

As a PR professional, it is important to make sure your voice is heard at the table. Whether you are on the PR team at the company or are brought in to deal with the issue, it is important to vocalize your opinions. You are the PR expert and you can bring a unique perspective to the table.

When addressing the press during a crisis, it can be tempting to utter the fatal words of “no comment” to buy yourself time, however, saying “no comment” simply alerts the media that there is a large problem at hand.

Never point fingers when it comes time to address the press, release a statement or press release because it always backfires. Some sort of statement helps establish facts and doesn’t let people make inferences about the silence.

Internally, it is vitally important to keep employees in the loop. They need to know exactly what happened, what is being done, how it will affect the future, and what they should say if they are asked questions by the media.

A crisis can be conquered if you remember to do 3 simple things: apologize, acknowledge, and act. If you do that, what once was a crisis will soon be water under the bridge.