For us in PR, one of the many wonderful things about social media is the speed at which it can spread messages and how far it can spread them. However, somewhat conflictingly, this very thing that makes social media a PR professional’s dream is also what can make it appear daunting in the event of a PR crisis.
But fear not dear folk! There are 5 simple steps you can take to make managing your brand’s social profile efficiently and effectively in the event of a crisis. If followed properly, you will certainly be able to minimise any reputation damage and if you’re really good at it, you may even be able to turn this crisis into a positive brand experience.
Here are my top tips:
1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Take heed from Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the USA, because this little mantra (a personal favourite) could not be more important for the effective management of brands online. Do not contribute to the crisis by responding too slowly or too impulsively . Have a clear process in place and ensure all members with platform responsibility are familiar with it and their role in its implementation. Put crisis management on your PR agendas and ensure you are kept informed of any potential issues before they arise so that you can consider every outcome and prepare accordingly.
2. The 3 Rs.
Trying to keep a crisis secret or ignoring one when the cat’s out the bag, is a sure fire way to draw even more attention to it. In the dawn of digital, transparency is paramount. Take Responsibility for what happened, Recognise the concerns and Respond to questions . Don’t avoid the issues, be clear, drawing on the facts you know to be true – this will avoid any information being misconstrued or used out of context. And don’t say ‘no comment’; it conveys guilt or will encourage your followers to make up their own minds based on something they have read elsewhere.
3. Stay ahead of the game.
Speed is vital in the social game. Taking too long to respond will be deemed poor form and can be as damaging as the brand narrative you’re trying to control . So while being planned is important don’t paralyse a brand by becoming bogged down by the detail if the crisis has already struck. Get out there and take ownership while behind the scenes gathering all the information you need to make your next move.
4. Be compassionate.
Ok so we’ve established that you need to be quick but this doesn’t mean devoid of emotion or ill considered. Humanize your organisation by presenting it as a group of people that care and who are working hard to address the issue – a brand with a face is much easier to forgive than one without.
Keep a watchful eye on all media outlets and social platforms – including those on which your brand may not have a presence. What is being said on Instagram will soon spread to Facebook and from LinkedIn to Twitter; it’s just a matter of time people. The sooner you spot something connected to your crisis, the sooner you can plan and respond accordingly