Build Blogging and Tweeting into the CM Plan
Jun 3, 2009 Patricia Faulhaber
Social media can help in times of crisis. While situations like Tiger Woods breaking news is a PR problem, it is necessary to have a good plan of a action.
Social media, blogging, and tweeting have proven to be viable, usable communications tools with far reaching uses- some of which are still being defined or refined.
One such use just now emerging is to incorporate social media resources with traditional media to communicate in a crisis. Some experts are calling it digital crisis communications.
Uses for Digital Crisis Communications
In a much publicized event, Conan O’Brien took over NBC’s The Tonight Show on June 1, 2009. On his second show he introduced a new comedic segment called The Tonight Show Twitter Tracker. The Twitter Tracker displayed celebrity tweets, whether they were actual tweets or made up, the fact that Twitter has made to so many talk show desks proves it is a force to be reckoned with.
The Public Relations Society of America’s publication, The Strategist, ran an article in the Spring 2009 issue on blogging and tweeting back to success. The writer, Chris Johnson, related two stories about the disadvantages of social media. The first was the story of Domino’s Pizza employees filming themselves doing unthinkable acts on food they served to customers.
The employees placed the videos on YouTube. The second was about Amazon and the way they have chosen to handle the rankings of gay literature. Both incidents sent both companies into crisis management mode.
The first thing a company has to do when incorporating social media into a crisis management plan is to determine who, how, and when the public relations office will monitor what is being said and shown about the company from other sources such as employees and non-staff bloggers and tweeters.
After determining that part of the plan, next determine how to respond to negative or potentially negative posts.
Planning for Digital Crisis Communications
The three major phases of any crisis communications plans include:
- Planning, some level of crisis will occur within the company at some point. Be prepared and have every detail possible planned out before a crisis hits. It may help to practice the crisis plan with a simulated crisis. A company can never plan for every scenario but having a plan can help guide everyone in how to address a crisis. Digital crisis communications has to be incorporated and detailed in this part of the plan
- Response is the second phase. Fast, concise and simple is the key to the response. Digital crisis communications has to also be a part of this section of the plan.
- Recovery is the third phase. Once again, digital crisis communications can be a vital part of this phase. The two way communications aspect of social media can greatly help a company’s recovery. Monitoring what is being written about the response to a crisis can help guide the recovery decisions.
Digital Crisis Communications Tips
The Strategist article recommended several strategies for using digital crisis communications including:
- As soon as a crisis is determined, use Twitter to send out a brief and crisp message. eReleases recommends that you carefully examine a situation before you starting responding through Twitter or other social media outlet. A company could create a crisis by responding to something that isn’t true or isn’t serious enough to be considered a crisis.
- When possible, discuss the matter with reporters and blogger over the telephone.
- Always provide a direct email address as a way for people to respond.
- Don’t use a company blog to respond to a crisis. It is best to go to third party blogs with comments and quotes from the CEO.
- Keep in mind that bloggers and online news sources work 24/7 and a digital crisis can occur at any time of the day or week. Rapid response to true crises is the most effective way to address digital situations.
Keep it in Perspective
As with any type of crisis, calm, well thought out responses and actions work the best. To achieve the required level of professionalism, start incorporating digital crisis communications into all phases of the crisis management plan.