This is a guest post by Dan Cash.
Crisis management has always been something that businesses dread, however, with the right PR companies working for them it should be something which can be handled efficiently and with minimum impact to the brand and the message your company is trying to deliver. However, these days though it’s not as straightforward as it once was.
Five years ago a PR disaster would involve traditional media sources repeating news about the situation in which your company found itself, there would be chatter on the internet, discussions on forums and a number of angry emails, telephone calls and letters. Your PR firm’s responsibility would be to mitigate the message and to placate those who had the greatest grievance. Today, because of social media platforms the situation is similar but ramped up to the Nth degree.
Because having a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is an industry expectation, your company is open to comments and criticism which you host on your profile page which all your business partners and clients can then see. Your knee-jerk reaction might be to delete disparaging comments but this would probably be a mistake as censorship is something that internet users have come to feel very strongly about.
If an event occurs it’s vital that you deal with it quickly. If you make your media responses and take remedial action immediately, you’ll nip many of your critics in the bud. Any delays can be correlated into loss of reputation and the speed at which social media works means that ‘timely’ essentially means instantly.
Rather than responding to your critics with denial and deletion of their comments, if you’ve dealt with the problem, say so and explain, calmly and reasonably what steps you took, how this event will be something you will learn from in the future and that you welcome constructive comments and suggestions for ongoing policy reviews.
If your remediation is ongoing, explain that you’re making your best efforts to resolve the situation, that you’re pouring manpower and knowhow into solving the problem. Use your social media to keep those concerned abreast of your efforts, in real time if you can. Answer critical comments honestly without being rude or patronizing where the ill informed have taken it upon themselves to join in on hating you but point out where they have been misguided.
Charlie Pownall, lead digital strategist for Burston Marsteller says that:
“The internet and social media are changing the nature and the dynamic of issue and crisis management to the extent that many corporations feel that they aren’t in control of their reputation. It is a myth that companies could control their reputations it is getting harder for them to shape perception. Organizations have to be transparent, sincere and engage with their audience.”
If you want to ensure that your crisis recovery is effective it’s necessary to have a well thought out and implementable strategy. You need to be able to talk about the worst case scenario and make sure that not only do you make contingencies for it, you need also to have media statements and expert testimony pointing out that you have already looked into what would happen in just such a situation and that you are bringing all the state of the art techniques that exist to bear on delivering the solution. Your crisis communications have to be suitable for all streams of media, including press and TV, social media, radio web content and press releases. The message has to be coherent, informative and each data stream should compliment the others.
Dan Cash is a writer specialising in social media. Humax foxsat HDRs mean that he doesn’t miss his favourite shows while he’s on Facebook and sledertone takes care of the workout. No need to leave the chair ever again!