Best Practices To Use on Social Media During a Crisis

Let’s face it. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, we use social media more and more to digest our news rather than traditional media. Nearly 67 percent of American adults rely on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat for news. So, when a crisis strikes, the information is at our fingertips at lightning speed.

 

News coverage 24/7 has transformed the way we seek and share information, but what does that mean for brands? If you ever find yourself in a crisis, take a deep breath, buckle-up, and get ready for the ride. Here are a few social media best practices when dealing with a crisis:

 

Have a plan.

Hopefully you’re reading this before disaster strikes and have time to proactively create a crisis action plan. This plan will help the team understand their roles during a crisis and allow them to be prepared for every scenario that could possibly go wrong with your brand. Don’t wait until something blows up; brainstorm with your team and list out any and all possible problems that could arise. You then have time to create well-written responses and a good plan of action no matter what comes your way.

 

Be quick to respond.

When crisis strikes, response time is everything. If possible, responding within the first hour of inquiries will help minimize confusion or speculation. Reference your crisis communication plan and draft a statement immediately, individualizing when possible. It’s easier to change the course of the conversation with a timely, heartfelt response rather than staying silent and looking suspicious.

 

Monitor in real-time.

Whether the entire team or just one person is in charge of the task, it is important to have someone dedicated to monitoring your social media 24/7. You can’t deal with a possible situation if you don’t know what is happening in real-time. Create Google Alerts for your company, product(s), and keywords related to your industry. Hootsuite and Sprout Social are also good tools to monitor social media mentions and engagements in real-time. Stop havoc before it happens, or turn your crisis into a win like Reese’s did with their #AllTreesAreBeautiful campaign.

 

I’m sure you’ve opened a Reese’s Peanut Butter Tree at Christmas and its looked a little off. Well, instead of shying away from the backlash, Reese’s launched its #AllTreesAreBeautiful ad campaign. With a bit of hard work, the ad campaign received more than 1 billion impressions. Their emotional and cultural relevance as a brand took off and made a huge impact.

 

Speak your audience’s language.

You use your brand’s voice on all forms of social media every other day of the year—don’t turn into a robot just because you’re in crisis mode. Be professional where it’s called for on platforms like LinkedIn and use a lighter voice with more imagery on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Each social media platform has its own tone, as does each brand. Adjust it with your audience in mind but stay true to who you are.

 

If you don’t already have a plan in place for handling a crisis of any magnitude, now is the time to create one, and Dittoe PR is here to help. Request a consultation with us today!

Don’t Panic! Here Are The Top Crisis Communications Strategies

From large corporations to schools, government entities and even your friendly, neighborhood ice cream shop, every organization – large and small – will undoubtedly experience a crisis at one time or another.

 

And while every situation is different, one thing remains the same – the decisions you make regarding crisis communications will either help your company ride out the chaotic roller coaster or, if you’re not careful, cause lasting damage to your brand.

 

Following the crisis communications strategies listed below could help you protect your organization during a difficult time.

 

Preparation is Key

While it’s impossible to know exactly when a crisis will strike, it’s important to anticipate and plan for potential crises.

 

The best way to prepare is to create a detailed plan outlining every possible crisis – everything from running out of ice cream on a hot, summer day to the building burning down – and the best possible response for each situation.

 

One of the biggest challenges companies face during a crisis is having too many cooks in the kitchen. The crisis communications plan should specify who will make final decisions on messaging, who will be the media spokesperson and who needs to be looped into all crisis communications discussions.

 

Accuracy and Speed

At Dittoe PR, we consider accuracy and speed to be two of the main ingredients in crisis preparedness – and while both are important, the two can sometimes create a confusing balancing act.

 

In the case of a major crisis, it is incredibly important to act quickly to stay ahead of the media and response from target audiences. However, that does not mean you should hastily share information or whip up a media statement too quickly.

 

Our recommendation? Face the crisis head on, only sharing accurate and factual information. If you are unsure of how the fire started, avoid speculation at all costs. Instead, share what you DO know. Avoiding the media during a crisis is often the biggest mistake a company can make, as it creates unnecessary rumors and spreads confusing messages.

 

Company transparency

During a crisis, it’s sometimes easy to forget about your employees while trying to communicate with the media, law enforcement, investors and everyone else on your list. However, neglecting employees could be harmful to your company’s internal well-being.

 

Oftentimes, employees catch on to crisis situations even if the company has not shared information and updates. Company morale can quickly diminish if employees think something is wrong, but are not receiving informational updates. Instead, the organization should always make sure to share the most up-to-date information with all employees to keep everyone in the know.

 

In the event of a crisis, the CEO and the executive team must consider the company’s employees as another constituency to respect and inform. This is particularly helpful should an employee want to discuss the company’s situation with others, on social media or even with the media. You should prep employees on what’s appropriate to share with their own networks (and also what’s not).

 

In short, managing crisis communications is no easy task. However, it doesn’t have to be detrimental to your brand if you prepare, act quickly, share accurate information with the media and your employees, and most importantly, avoid panic!

 

Additionally, working with an experienced PR firm can ensure success before, during, and after a crisis occurs, as well as strongly increase the chances of making it through unscathed.

 

Think your company or brand could benefit from expert crisis communications? We’re happy to help!

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Addressing Crises via Social Media

It’s 2012 and most businesses are now active on social media (if you’re part of a company that isn’t, contact Dittoe PR, we’ll help ya out). While it’s great that so many companies are seeing the extensive benefits of socializing with their customers and fans via the world wide web, there are some businesses that still don’t have a plan in place in case of public relations crises. Negative messages can often spread faster than positive ones, so PR pros need to be prepared to act in a meaningful way at the drop of a hat. But how you respond is certainly important. Here are six Do’s and Don’ts for handling Crises on Social Media:

Do – Have a Plan in Place
An effective social media policy will help save a business’ reputation in a crisis situation. These policies are meant to outline rules and regulations of day-to-day social media use as well as in crisis situations. Remember to outline steps that the crisis team should take, as well as determine who is in charge of handling the crisis via social media. The smaller the team, the better because there will be less room for confusion and mixed messages. PR firms make for great social media managers! Check out Mashable’s tips to a good social media policy. You can also read an example of a social media policy by IBM.

Don’t – Respond in Anger
With a social media plan already in place, it should be easier to follow protocol when it comes to responding to a crisis. However, whoever is in charge of social media should take time to calm down and really think through a response before taking action. An angry response will only blow the problem out of proportion and cause more trouble. Similarly, deleting a comment made out of anger will also be more problematic than responding in a diplomatic way. One cringe-worthy example occurred in 2009 when Irish airline Ryanair responded to a blogger’s post about a booking fluke with insults. They even issued an official press release backing up their claims about the “idiot blogger.” Not a good idea.

Do – Stay on the Same Channel
Say an employee accidentally sends an inappropriate tweet out on the company’s account – you shouldn’t respond on your Facebook wall. It is vital to stick with a consistent social media channel during a crisis situation. If you’re addressing an issue that has nothing to do with social media, you can still respond via social media, but your message might be slightly different depending on which social media channel you’re working with. When Domino’s experienced a viral YouTube video crisis showing an employee serving food that had been shoved up someone’s nose (just one example), the company responded with an apology video also on YouTube. This is an example of a well thought-out, sincere and impactful response.

Don’t – Ignore the Problem
If one customer has a problem and vents about it on social media, it most likely will not turn into a crisis situation. However, as part of your social media policy, you must monitor social media channels for issues that are substantial enough to affect your brand in a negative way. If negative comments start going viral, or anti-your-company Facebook pages are formed, don’t ignore the problem and hope that it will go away. Nestlé experienced this problem when they saw comments from upset Greenpeace activists regarding key ingredients in KitKat bars on their Facebook fan page. At first, Nestlé ignored the problem and deleted the unwelcome comments. Things soon got out of hand when they openly posted that they were deleting comments. Nestlé’s official apology on the matter was widely thought to be too little too late.

Do – Respond Quickly
I used to work in a newsroom on the overnight shift where the motto is, “news never sleeps so neither do we.” Because of this 24/7 model of news, a quick response is needed to show that your company is listening and prepared. The problem needs to be addressed in a timely manner, and should consistently communicate the same message. Again, a small crisis communication team will ensure that everyone is communicating the same, clear message in a timely manner

Don’t – Dwell on the Negative
Once a crisis is resolved, it is important to use it as a learning experience and more forward. Don’t dwell on what could have happened; instead turn it into something positive for your company. For example, Frontier used a severe weather crisis as a way to show customer support on Twitter. When multiple flights were delayed in Denver, Frontier’s Senior Manager of Social Media decided to tweet relevant information and flight re-accommodations to quickly spread messages. Customers were pleasantly surprised with the speed and ease of re-booking flights. These PR pros managed to show how valuable quick responses are and generated positive feelings out of a crisis situation.

A good PR firm will be able to help their clients create a successful crisis communication strategy before any issues come up. This strategy needs to have a specific section to focus on social media issues, including action plans and preparedness in case of a crisis.

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