Seeing Crisis as a Teachable Moment

McDonald's media relations director advises getting out of the bunker and viewing a crisis as an opportunity to educate your audience.Too many corporate officials and PR professionals recoil in the face of a crisis. The director of media relations for McDonald's, who is no stranger to crisis, sees it as an opportunity "to educate."

To earn a teachable moment, Danya Proud tells Ragan's PR Daily, you must "acknowledge you're not perfect."

"If you made a mistake," Proud says, "own up to it. Let people know you're listening to them."

The temptation many succumb to when facing a crisis is to dissemble or head for the bunker, hoping the storm will blow over.

Proud's advice: "A crisis can be an opportunity to set the record straight. I seize every opportunity to educate."

"It's not about what you want to say," Proud adds. “It's about what your audience wants to hear."

Self-serving, indulgent and sluggish responses won't cut it. Proud notes there are people prowling the Internet looking for an excuse to criticize. Don't give them an excuse to pounce on you, she says.

"Gone are the days when you can procrastinate about what you're saying," according to Proud. "You have a responsibility to get back to people."

That's your teachable moment.