June 3, 2014
With the progression of online social media, the way we approach communication between a brand and consumer has vastly changed. There has never been a time where customers can reach out as directly to a brand with concerns as they can now with platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Brands are now realizing that social media is a necessary component when creating crisis management and communication plans.
Whether it’s a natural disaster near your business or simply a Tweet that has you under fire, the public has certain expectations for a company’s response to a potential crisis. Integrating social media with crisis management is influential to your business, allowing your customers a dynamic opportunity for information to flow both ways. Be aware of the power of social media. Small issues like a silly comment can get picked up by others and snowball into a PR crisis.
Addressing concerns and complaints with grace will be how your company makes it out of these sticky situations. Delivering powerful messaging during times of crisis has two main components that need to be at the forefront of your mind when writing crisis management plans.
Stay consistent and clear. Remain as objective as you possible can and stick to the facts. As a cardinal rule, do not say you know something when you do not. There’s a need to communicate with not only affected people, but others who are worried and in need of information. Keep the flow of communication open and honest while maintaining a strong voice that your followers can turn to for guidance. And if you do mess up, do not try and hide your mistake and stay honest. The social media world can be extremely forgiving so long as you aren’t being dishonest about your actions.
Be timely. The best thing you can do is to have a PR plan in place for emergency times. Include social media responses with defined roles and scripts for those responding. Customers/followers expect a swift response and they expect to hear from a leader they can trust. As a leader, you have to make promises. You must use social media channels to not only offer empathy, but also to communicate what you’re doing to move forward. You cannot go to your followers without proper information and a plan of action and still expect them to trust you. Use this time to help your audience understand the issue before properly communication actionable steps to remedy the situation.
The more citizens can engage with brands online, the more they develop trust with said brand. Leaders need to stay aware of this result when they decide how to engage with the followers. Planning ahead with trustworthy content and a powerful delivery will aid businesses in successfully overcoming any emergency situation.
Photo By: Jason Howie / Flickr