Johannesburg, 7 August 2023: PR Worx reaffirmed its position as the gold standard in crisis communications at this year’s Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa’s PRISM Awards, where the agency again took home the coveted Crisis Management Gold award for its work with confectionary giant Richester Foods.
Richester faced significant online backlash when several primary school children fell ill during a school market day. Concerned parents and community members pointed fingers at Richester’s Xpop Energy Cola Fizz lollipops, citing similar unfounded accusations against the company a year prior.
However, investigations ultimately exonerated Richester in both instances. The company demonstrated that their sweets were not contaminated and that, in all probability, the illness originated from another source such, as contaminated tap water in the rural communities.
When the news reached Richester and PR Worx was called in to once again protect its reputation, mere hours after the initial social media posts, the misleading information had already gone viral and had been picked up by various media outlets.
Given the time constraints, late on a Friday afternoon, the PR Worx team swiftly deployed every crisis communications tactic at its disposal, drawing upon its decades of collective experience and expertise to disseminate accurate information to the public.
“Unfortunately, there is no way to predict if or when past crises might resurface and wreak havoc on a company’s reputation. The best in crisis communications not only manage the initial crisis effectively but also continue to work tirelessly for months and sometimes years afterwards to fortify their client’s reputation and mitigate the impact of any delayed aftershocks on the brand,” notes Madelain Roscher, founder and CEO of PR Worx.
With a successful track record of over 21 years, PR Worx has established itself as one of Africa’s leading public relations pioneers and strategy trailblazers, making it the go-to 360° marketing-communications agency for many of the country’s major economic and governmental players. When it comes to crisis communications, few PR firms can rival PR Worx’s accomplishments over the past two decades, positioning it as the undisputed frontrunner as the Best Crisis Communications Agency year after year.
The harsh realities of crisis communications
Not all PR agencies are created equally, and crisis communications simply isn’t an attractive undertaking for most agencies, according to Roscher. “As crisis management is such a niche offering, most agencies simply lack the skills, experience, the nerve and the tenacity to manage the many complexities, the sacrifices, and the potential backlash inherent to crisis communications. Most simply don’t want to face the repercussions, which sometimes outweigh the reward.
“We have never shied away from a challenge. PR Worx built its reputation on tackling the difficulties that others avoid, and as a result, we consistently reap the rewards and earn the awards for our efforts.”
Crisis management and traditional media sometimes find themselves at odds during times of brand dilemmas. While the media aim to publish information of immediate public interest within minutes of a crisis unfolding, and social media users spread information (factual or fictitious) at breakneck speeds, crisis communications agencies attempt to contain and extinguish the spread of the fire with the same urgency and veracity.
“We have faced fierce opposition and fended off relentless attacks from a handful of rogue stakeholders with their own agendas over the years. Yet, we have remained steadfast in our mission to defend our clients whose voices are often suppressed for various reasons.
“Similar to how lawyers defend their clients and are duty-bound to do so to the best of their ability, the same allowance and respect should be extended to the public relations industry. We will continue to advocate for the right of both individuals and businesses to defend themselves on various platforms, and the right of public relations agencies to aid them. In doing so, we believe that PR Worx will continue to be recognised within and outside the industry as Africa’s trailblazers of the crisis management sector,” concludes Roscher.