We are very excited to continue our public relations and crisis communications expert interview series with Laura A. Frnka-Davis, APR is the principal of LFD Communications, a woman-owned public relations agency based in Missouri City, Texas.
A dedicated professional with more than 15 years of public relations experience, Laura has spent time at some of Houston’s well-known non-profits and businesses, including Texas Children’s Hospital, Pierpont Communications, and LifeGift. She is well-versed in multiple communications disciplines ranging from media relations to PR writing to internal and external communications.
She is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America Houston Chapter, where she serves as an assembly delegate. Laura graduated from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas where she majored in journalism and minored in marketing. LFD Communications is a member of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
What is reputation management? How does it relate to public relations?
Reputation management, quite simply, is keeping your reputation in-tact. Public relations is a consistent effort to establish goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its target audiences.
What are the biggest PR mistakes you see companies make online? How could these mistakes have been avoided?
You can’t ignore your digital reputation. You need to take the time to respond to those reviews that come in via social platforms and personalize the responses. Don’t use a cookie-cutter approach.
How does social media factor into your reputation management strategy?
Social media is a big part of your reputation management strategy. It’s a reflection of the experiences your publics are having with your brand. Social media is an extension of your organization and must be maintained.
What is the first thing a company should do when there is a crisis online?
As with any PR issue, you need to research and do your homework first. Gather the facts and then work on a response.
What can employees do to help their company during and after a PR crisis?
Employees should always be advocates for your brand, regardless if there is a crisis or not. In a crisis, employees should take time to understand who is responsible for the company’s response and respect it. Don’t attempt to answer questions from the media when approached, etc. Follow organizational protocol.
What can senior executives and companies do to better prepare for a PR crisis?
Senior executives can take time to role-play a crisis. More often than not, crisis plans are written and then put on the shelf to collect dust. They are meant to be used as a tool and adapted as necessary, particularly when situations like a global pandemic hit.
Is reputation management getting easier or harder? Why?
Reputation management is getting harder with the role of social media and digital communications. You’ve got to keep your eye on multiple channels and platforms to make sure you’re managing your reputation appropriately. I also think the COVID-19 pandemic plays into this. The public is going to remember how your company/organization responded to this crisis for many years.
What has been your biggest PR or crisis communications challenge? How did you handle it?
There have been many! One that stands out was when I was working for the local organ recovery agency and we had a nasty headline on the front page of the paper. Despite the CEO providing an informative and helpful interview, the result was less than flattering. The news was leaked to the agency’s public, including volunteers and members of the Board of Directors. I had to quickly get into action and work with physicians, ethicists, etc. to write rebuttals and work like a dog to get the paper to print them in the op-ed section. I also had to manage the online reputation of the organization and field comments on social media and quickly.
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