In a previous blog, we talked about how social media can be an extremely effective tool when dealing with global crises such as natural disasters, large accidents, and other major emergency events. But if you own a business large or small, these same techniques can help you avert or at least mitigate a non-life-threatening public relations (PR) crisis in your own business.
Every business emergency should be considered a potential PR crisis
When we think of business emergencies, what generally comes to mind are the sorts of crises that pop up unexpectedly and have to be dealt with without any preparation or planning. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Many business emergencies either start as internal problems or problems in the marketplace that will clearly develop into a bigger crisis for the business.
Even if the problem seems to be something that can be contained internally, having a social media emergency plan in place and being prepared to use some of the techniques below can drastically mitigate any PR disasters should the problem become public. As every capable emergency responder knows, preparation is the key to dealing with any crisis situation.
Create a disaster kit
If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, you probably have put together some sort of disaster kit containing essential elements for your safety and survival. The business world can be a daunting place, so why not put the same logic into play for your business?
Think of this business disaster kit as a emergency management plan for you and your staff that addresses every potential PR crisis you can imagine. Start with outlining the chain of command and procedures for drafting, approving, and issuing public statements. You could also include in the plan prepared responses, positive company history, and even bios of key employees. If a PR crisis does emerge and it hits social media, the goal is for it to be handled thoughtfully and by the appropriate personnel. Don’t leave the decision-making and early responses to those unprepared to speak for the company when matters become extremely delicate.
Report from ground zero
When a PR crisis arises, it is important to remember that the company has access to information and a perspective possessed by neither the press nor the social media community at large. Offering details not otherwise available can go a long way to show that your company is both on top of the problem and very transparent — something that holds a lot of sway in social media, where users’ relationships with friends and family mix seamlessly with their relationships to businesses and organizations. Remember that in all these relationships, trust, honesty, and integrity reign supreme.
Create a unified response
Part of establishing and keeping that trust is creating and maintaining a unified response in all channels of social media, marketing, and public relations. Be aware that you may have different members of your staff in charge of different aspects of how your company interacts with the public. Make sure everyone is working together as a team in both the information presented to the public and the responses to public inquiry and criticism.
Search and rescue
Even if things seem to be hunky-dory, your social media expert should perform frequent searches for the business name, and find and monitor any relevant social media hashtags for your industry. An example on how this can turn a PR crisis into a positive would be in the early stages of a product recall. If your business carries a product that is being questioned as defective or even dangerous, being aware of and responding to that situation immediately will show your customers and social media followers that you go above and beyond to look out for their best interests, and always put their well-being first.
Lastly, monitoring social media is the most effective way to identify and stop any rumors or misinformation spreading about your company or an industry-related problem. As expressed above, the best response will always be to illustrate to customers your commitment to their well-being and to show that you are an industry leader through your knowledge, insight, and integrity.
At Blink;Tech, we help companies of all sizes leverage the power of social media, building engaged communities of enthusiastic followers and broadcasting company messages to new audiences. Contact us today if you’re ready to enter the social sphere.