What is reactive PR?

Public relations (PR) is a crucial aspect of running a successful business and has been increasingly overlapping with SEO.

Reactive PR occurs when an organization responds to a particular event — positive or negative — with the goal of fostering a positive public image.

As their names suggest, there is a significant difference between reactive PR and proactive PR campaigns, but both ultimately aim to achieve the same result.

Importance of reactive PR

Reactive PR plays a significant role in shaping the public’s perception of an organization. Reacting promptly to situations can limit the damage that negative events can cause.

Here are some of the reasons why reactive PR is essential for organizations:

  • Mitigating damages: Negative events can arise unexpectantly, causing damage to an organization’s reputation. Responding promptly can mitigate the damage to a brand’s public perception.
  • Establish thought leadership: By offering insightful and valuable responses to media inquiries or industry developments, companies can enhance their credibility, gain exposure, and position themselves as go-to sources for information and expertise.
  • Building journalist relationships: Being a responsive expert who provides timely and valuable insights is a way to establish rapport, increase media coverage opportunities, and potentially gain favorable media exposure in the long term.

Elements of reactive PR

Reactive PR comprises reacting promptly to an event with the aim of fostering a positive public image.

Crisis management

Crisis management is an essential element of reactive PR, and it involves the management of an organization’s response to unexpected negative events such as a scandal, an accident, or an environmental disaster.

A well-planned and executed crisis management strategy can reduce the impact of these events and prevent long-term damage to the organization’s reputation.

The problem, of course, is that most businesses do not have a plan in place that can be executed when things go wrong.

Media relations

Media relations involve a strategic approach to earning and maintaining positive relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other media influencers.

This element of reactive PR involves responding to media inquiries promptly and providing accurate information, addressing potential misunderstandings, and mitigating the impact of negative coverage.


Reactive outreach involves reaching out to new partners and customers in response to opportunities that arise, such as media requests, partnerships, or other unexpected events.

In SEO, outreach is typically proactive, i.e.

Content creation

Content creation is an essential element in reactive PR, as organizations need to create fast and relevant content that responds to the situation. This often involves creating content that addresses the situation and provides information or updates.

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Strategies for successful reactive PR

Organizations can take various steps to ensure that they have successful reactive PR. These strategies include:

Monitor social media and news outlets

Monitoring news outlets and social media channels can help organizations know what is being said about their organization. This allows them to take prompt action when negative events arise and resolve any issues.

Be prepared

Organizations need to have a crisis management plan in place. This allows them to respond quickly and effectively to negative events.

Respond swiftly and accurately

When an organization responds to a negative event, they need to do so promptly and accurately. This helps address potential misunderstandings and can help minimize the impact of the situation.

Be transparent

Transparency is essential in reactive PR. Organizations must be transparent when they respond to negative events. This helps build trust and credibility with their audience.

Examples of reactive PR

There have been many examples of organizations using reactive PR to limit the damage of negative events. One such example is when Johnson & Johnson recalled Tylenol in the early 1980s. The company’s quick response and transparency helped them maintain their positive public image.

Another example is when PepsiCo responded to the “Kendall Jenner” ad controversy by removing the ad and issuing an apology. This helped the company limit the damage the ad had caused in the public eye.


What is the difference between reactive and proactive PR?

Reactive PR is responding to negative events, while proactive PR is creating positive publicity to influence public opinion before a negative event occurs.

What are the elements of reactive PR?

The elements of reactive PR include crisis management, media relations, outreach, and content creation.

Why is reactive PR important?

Reactive PR is important for organizations because it helps to maintain a positive public image. Responding quickly to an event can limit the damage that negative events can cause.

Can reactive PR be predicted?

Reactive PR cannot be predicted, but organizations can be prepared by having a crisis management plan in place to respond swiftly and effectively to negative events.

What are some examples of reactive PR?

Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol recall in the early 1980s, and PepsiCo’s response to the “Kendall Jenner” ad controversy are examples of organizations using reactive PR to limit the damage of negative events.

David Boyd

David Boyd

David has been in SEO since 1999 and focuses most of his efforts in creating digital PR campaigns that earn links and brand awareness.

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