Posts Tagged ‘crisis situation’


14 Tips for Building Your Social Media Crisis Communications Plan

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
photo courtesy PRNews

photo courtesy PRNews

How long would it take you to get your CEO on the phone at 4pm on a Friday or during a holiday? That was one of the questions Dallas Lawrence (@dallaslawrence) posed during his session, “Crisis and Reputation Management in the Social Age” at the PRNews Media Relations Next Practices Conference last week in Washington, D.C.

One key takeaway from Lawrence included this quote: “From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg, good PR efforts have not changed. We are just so tied up in the new platforms that are out there, we forget the basic media relations practices.”

No matter how good your communication department is, it matters how you handle situations as they arise. You could do nothing wrong in today’s social environment and still have a crisis develop; you must be ready for that.

One example that Lawrence mentioned was when someone hacked the AP Twitter account to say there had been a bombing at the White House. Within seconds of that Tweet, the stock market declined for almost 30 minutes until people realized it wasn’t true.  When a crisis such as this occurs, Lawrence suggests looking at three roles social and digital media play during a crisis.

First, social media is an instigator. Were there not a social platform that allows us to send out our every thought, or record every stupid thing that happens, the crisis wouldn’t have occurred.

The next role is that of accelerant. A similar crisis may have happened 20 years ago, but it would not have metastasized so quickly without social media. So Lawrence stresses we must be prepared to act immediately instead of waiting and seeing.

The third and most important role social media plays is extinguisher. We can use social media effectively before, during, and after a crisis to mitigate the damage, and in some cases actually eliminate the crisis.

Social media continues to evolve and grow. There are more than 500 million users on Twitter, more than one billion users on Facebook, and four billion videos viewed on YouTube per day. Everyone knows a social media presence is necessary, so everyone is bombarded with content, and just because you posted a video or press release on Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean that anyone cares or that anyone sees it.  Your message must be spot on.

Lawrence stated that 79 percent of companies believe they are only 12 months from a crisis, and 50 percent of those companies believe it will happen in the digital space. The biggest issue facing companies today is the inability to respond effectively to new media (including social media). And yet, only a third of businesses have a digital crisis plan.

If you need to develop a digital crisis plan from scratch, or if you just want to refine your existing plan, here are 14 lessons from Lawrence on how to handle that social media crisis.

1. Once a crisis breaks out on social media, identify your influencers, as they are most likely to impact the conversation. All people in social and digital are not the same, so make sure you know which people have the ability to shape decisions about your company.

2. Actively monitor your reputation and the activities of your protagonist(s) or advocate(s).

3. Avoid the information vacuum. Information spreads as soon as it’s available, regardless of its veracity. You can’t have a press conference every other hour; you have to release news in real time.

4. Develop a clear, effective and platform-appropriate message. Be where your crisis is happening. Craft an appropriate message for the platform on which you respond. If something is happening on Twitter, respond via Twitter first before sending out a press release.

5. Own your brand in social media before someone else does. People are actively stalking and brand jacking.  You should know not only your corporate entity’s brand, but all of your subsidiary brands.

6. A majority of journalists use Twitter for sources. Journalists are getting their news from Twitter in real-time before verifying the source of the story.

7. Make sure to include people, not logos, on your social media accounts. No one wants to engage with a logo, especially in a crisis. We want to talk and hear from someone.

8. Integration is key. It is critical to integrate your crisis communication plan across all channels.

9. Know what you are talking about. Once you lose the credibility it is really tough to get it back.

10. When you blow it, own up to it quickly.

11. When all else fails, don’t forget humor. When you have really gotten in too deep, the best way to recover is humor.

12. Integrate paid and earned media.

13. Have clear employee rules and training for social media engagement.

14. Don’t forget your secret weapon: your employees. They can be your most powerful allies online if you engage and arm them in time.

Do you have a crisis communications plan and would you be prepared to handle a crisis situation at 4 pm on a Friday? How do you manage the speed at which news spreads on social media?

Social Media: The New Solitaire?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

by Denise Giacin*

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Lately I’ve been struggling with the social media paradox – is it good or is it bad? I use social media because it encourages me to be, well, social. You can keep in touch with your aunt halfway across the country, you can check out photos of your recently married ex-boyfriend (ah-hem), you can stay on top of current news stories, and you can even rant or rave about practically anything and cyberspace is forced to “listen.” Networking is also another plus for social media. One of my friends recently told me how he actually used Facebook to help out a friend who was laid off. The news came up in his Facebook feed, he contacted his friend for a resume and emailed it to a PR firm he knew was hiring. His friend was rewarded with an interview and an opportunity that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

All of this sounds good, so what’s the bad? Well, there is a lot of question and doubt regarding social media in the professional world. For one, some companies are hesitant to learn about these tools and apply them to their strategies. Instead, they are blocked, strictly forbidden, and grounds to send you packing in the event that you’re caught sneaking a peek at your Twitter feed.   

I recently attended a BDI conference called “Social Convergence and The Enterprise” and my mind is overflowing with all these thoughts on social media. Paul Hernacki, chief technology officer from Definition 6, boggled my mind with his perspective on social media in the workplace. He advised that we “stop blocking things internally.” Whoa! Wait, there’s more. Hernacki pointed out that while public relations, marketing, and communications departments should guide your company as your “official voice” this alone won’t be as successful as getting your organization involved as a whole.

This, my friends, is genius. Case and point: I tried to explain to my dad, who isn’t familiar with social media, what “liking” something is on Facebook. You should have seen the blank stare on his face.  My point is, how can you expect your employees to understand the power and impact of social media if they are not allowed to be actively involved?

At the same conference I also had the pleasure of listening to Jenny Dervin, director of corporate communications for JetBlue Airways. When speaking of social media, her words “you are being watched” hovered over the conference room. After all, the conference was being broadcast live over the web and we were all watching a live Twitter feed (#BDI) of our comments.  Dervin went on to further explain JetBlue’s use of YouTube and their blog “Blue Tales” as part of their strategy for taking a crisis situation head on. How much more authentic can you get than having the founder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways, David Neeleman, deliver an apology over YouTube? Kudos to JetBlue for picking up on the fact that consumers are involved in social media and for using this medium as a way to interact.

When your employees know what is being said on social media sites or how this medium is being used to promote a product, service, or idea it can only help your company. For example, if I worked at a major automobile manufacturer I might find it interesting to know that Ford is promoting the 2011 Explorer by unveiling it first on Facebook. In fact, the Ford Explorer fan page reached their goal of 30,000 “likes” so Ford will now give away a brand new Explorer! Clearly, Ford understands Facebook and the users who frequently use it.

I’m not suggesting that your employees should do nothing but surf the web all day, but there should be a balance. Encouraging your employees to understand social media and to use it wisely is an important tactic for any business plan. There are a lot of studies discussing whether or not social media decreases productivity at work. In my opinion, before social media it was Solitaire, before Solitaire it was “the water cooler.” There are always going to be distractions. If an employee is consistently not doing their job they shouldn’t be an employee of yours.  Not doing your work is a choice you make, regardless of how easily accessible any distractions are.

Social media gets people talking. If you want to be a part of the chatter, don’t block social media, incorporate it.  I’m sure you have many thoughts on this controversial topic and we’d love to hear them. Share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. How does your company feel about using social media internally? What ways have you utilized this social media phenomenon? How do you monitor social media?

***

*Bio: Prior to joining the BurrellesLuce Client Service team in 2008, Denise worked in the marketing industry for three years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Connecticut, where she gained experience interning in PR and working for student organizations. By engaging readers on the Fresh Ideas blog Denise hopes to further her understanding of client needs. In her spare time, she is passionate about Team in Training (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s charity sports training program) and baking cupcakes. Her claim to fame: red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. LinkedIn: dgiacin Twitter: @denise10283 Facebook: BurrellesLuce