The Role Of Social Media In PR Crisis Communications

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Deborah says, "This is a very helpful article. I have talked to companies, even those in the PR business, who have not recognized the value of crisis management with PR. Hopefully, you won't have to, but it is good to be prepared."

Now, on to the article...

Public Relations crises can cause serious harm to your brand image if you have not prepared to deal with them in advance. Planning for a crisis is essential in order to minimise damage and avoid irrevocably harming your brand image. The advent of social media has completely changed the PR landscape, and it is often put to use to help deal with public relations disasters. Here are some tips for using social media in a crisis.

Act Quickly

The instant nature of social media means that as soon as a situation breaks, people will immediately start to discuss it. You need to be able to react very quickly when a crisis erupts, and this comes down to good preparation. You do not want to have to waste time trying to sort out a plan of action in the moment, and instead you need to plan your strategy in advance and know how to react.

Crises can emerge without you even knowing about them, and this is where social media monitoring tools can be used. By monitoring the web for brand mentions you can get into the habit of reacting to any negative comments that arise, so that when a real crisis breaks you know about it first.

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Set Strict Rules for Staff

Make sure everyone knows what they can and cannot say on social media. You may have a policy whereby anyone can post anything, but when a crisis emerges you want to reduce your communications to a core crisis response team. With too many voices all saying different things, the situation can get out of hand, so ask staff not to respond to anything on social media channels unless you have given them your permission.

Try To Control the Situation

When a crisis hits, other people will start commenting on it immediately. When it comes to PR crisis management, if you do not get involved and put out your own statements, not only will this look bad, but much of the information out there may be ill-informed or just plain wrong. You want to stay in control of the situation by making sure that people can come to you to find the facts to counter any erroneous information in circulation.

This could take the form of regular updates, or you could direct people from your social media accounts to a special page on your website that you have set up to provide the latest updates on the situation.

Leverage Influencers

Social media is full of influential voices with large audiences, and having them on your side is always a good thing. By keeping a regular presence on social media you can start to build your own brand ambassadors who will be the ones fighting your corner when a crisis hits.

Some of these could be very influential and have large audiences, and they will help to counteract a lot of negative sentiment out there and disseminate factual information more effectively than you ever could alone.

Use Social Media to Control a PR Crisis

Social media can be an excellent tool for managing a PR crisis if you use it properly. However, fail to plan your social strategy in advance and you could find that it ends up doing more harm than good. Start planning your strategy now so that you know what to do in a crisis, and follow the tips above to incorporate social media into your crisis management plan.

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This post was generously provided by John Michaels.

  • Myra Bartlett July 2, 2013, 11:21 am

    There are stories of brands that have been at the blunt end of very public attacks via social media channels but the upside is that if you are prepared with the right crisis plan a negative situation can be turned around into a positive brand opportunity. It is important to be prepared to come out of the crisis with your reputation intact with the opportunity to spread your brand name in a positive light.

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