Nightmare on Fleet Street: How to stop a PR crisis haunting your business


It can take 20 years to build a reputation – and just five minutes to lose it: Here’s how our team can help stop your business from becoming a PR horror story

A Halloween themed graphic titles Nightmare on Fleet Street by Scottish PR Agency Holyrood PR

OUR team of PR experts are no strangers when it comes to handling PR crises that could cause internal turmoil for businesses.

But what do you do when the house of cards looks like its about to fall? What does a PR crisis look like for your business? Do you have a crisis plan that will act as your silver bullet when the wolves are at the door?

By analysing recent media mishaps and reflecting on some of the major crises we have managed; we’ll illustrate the importance of having PR professionals on hand to mitigate a crisis.

Dealing with a potential crisis

A graphic with two ghosts titles Fill the vacuum with sped. Created by Scottish PR Agency Holyrood PR.

Fill the vacuum with speed

We live in an age where speed has never been more important, it is estimated that by 2025 there will be 7.49 billion mobile phone users with 5.42 billion of us on social media by then.

With a world that has never been so hyper-connected, bad press can spread like wildfire across news platforms and social media.

The news cycle used to be days and weeks but now, it only takes minutes and seconds for a story to quickly be swept up by a media storm.

Holyrood PR Director Chris Fairbairn captured the essence of this when GPS technology giant Garmin who fell victim to a ransomware attack in 2020 that ultimately led to a PR crisis.

A graphic of Holyrood PR Director Scott Douglas beside a quote | Holyrood PR

Acknowledge, apologise and draw a line in the sand

A PR crisis can take many forms such as: product recalls, layoffs, industrial tribunals, whistleblower exposés, accidents or discriminatory remarks from senior figures.

Each situation profoundly impacts individuals, requiring a human-centric approach rather than cold, corporate statements.

A prime example of what no to do came in 2017 by United Airlines, where passenger David Dao was forcibly removed from his seat, a clip went viral and United Airlines took too long to respond and when they did, they issued a statement that fell short.

Speaking on how poorly United Airlines handled the situation, Holyrood PR Director Scott Douglas said: “You acknowledge what’s happened on an emotional level. 

“You say, this isn’t good enough, It’s horrible. We understand why people are upset. We’re upset ourselves. 

“We are now going to apologise deeply for this because it is bang out of order.

“So, acknowledge, apologise, and then draw a line in the sand and say, this is what we are going to do to fix this and make it better.”

How can we help?

Our experts work at speed to deal with sensitive media enquiries and what’s more is we have the experience and a superb track record to back this up.

In 2015 our team worked to help Scottish Water when the giant found itself in the glare of the media for a potential health scare involving contaminated water.

Our team worked with Scottish Water to enact a communications plan that ensured the matter at hand was dealt with and no further media storms were kicked up due to a lack of information and trust.

Our PR crisis service is not just available to our long-term clients, any business – big or small – that feels their reputation is simmering in the cauldron can rely upon our support, like when we assisted Aberdeen’s Daft Project pub during a COVID-19 controversy.

After Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifier win over Serbia led to excessive celebrations and guideline breaches, the pub found itself in hot water. The local council stepped in ordering the removal of TVs from the premises and putting the venue under the media microscope.

We navigated the media storm by offering a journalistic contact point and delivering clear, frequent statements to protect our client’s reputation.

During a time of crisis, we work quickly to ensure that clear and informative statements are delivered in a timely manner to ensure that reputational damage is minimised as much as possible.

Our effective protocols, honed through extensive experience with complex client structures and multiple stakeholders, ensure we deliver the best results.

Worried about a media mauling? Our Crisis PR team and experts are here to help when a PR crisis threatens to haunt your business

It couldn’t be easier to get in touch. Give us a call on 0131 561 2244 for a free consultation, or take a few seconds to fill out the simple form, below, and we’ll get straight back to you:

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