How to Avoid and Respond to Public Relations Crisis in Social Media

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Social media gives your business the opportunity to communicate quickly in times of crisis. Integrating social media into your communications strategy is beneficial, but only if you are able to alleviate the risks involved, which is always true with new technologies.

Aaron Aanenson, a senior consultant with the Sungard Availability Services Consulting business, shares the following tips on how to “improve your communications strategy using social media.”

1. Come up with a social media strategy

Social media can be used by your company in many ways, but you have to ask yourself what your primary strategy is. As previously mentioned, social media channels are primarily used as tools to communicate with your employees, your customers and potential customers.

There have been numerous examples over the years of employees “talking before thinking” and posting unprofessional messages on their companies’ social media pages, some of them resulting in public outrage over the insensitivity of the posts.  Therefore, the strategy should be comprehensive enough so that it includes other departments and significant shareholders of your company.

(Image: mkhmarketing (CC) via Flickr)

(Image: mkhmarketing (CC) via Flickr)

Moreover, all employees should know that when they are using the social media account of their company, they should only put up professional content.  Some companies do have agreements that employees have to sign, citing all the consequences if they don’t use official social media accounts responsibly.

It is also important to develop a strategy that allows being able to monitor the web for any content that may damage the reputation of your company, and find ways to minimize or eradicate the blow.

2. Prevent unprofessional content from appearing in the first place

Sometimes the messages you post in your social media pages that can be misinterpreted by your audience. When this happens you should be prepared to respond immediately and appropriately. However, prevention is better than cure, so in the first place, come up with a selection process which will prevent messages that are imprecise, not fit for the public, backward-looking, and in general, unprofessional, from even appearing in your social media platforms in the first place.

As a general policy, companies should understand that even if they can retract any post they put up on social media, anything they post should be treated as permanent. There are many ways for people to save what you put up.

3. Post content regularly and include social media in your resiliency exercises

Your target audience must perceive your company as having an active social media presence. This can be done by posting content on a regular basis, guaranteeing them that your communication efforts are in effect and that they can easily get help through social media.

The social media strategy should include integration with the processes of business continuity management (BCM). How effective a BCM program is can be determined by measuring resilience, or an organization’s ability to survive and potentially thrive in times of crisis.

A company can hold BCM exercises to test its resiliency, and communication through social media should be included in these exercises because often during times of crisis, social media may be the only way to find and interact with employees as they look for help and support.

4. Motivate employees and audience to post relevant content

You should motivate your employees to post lots of relevant content, giving them incentives if you do so. This will inspire users to share significant content as well, especially when they become more and more mindful of your company’s presence in social media, gain their trust on your platform presence, and be more at ease with it.

When your social media audience sees that your platform is active, that will give them the impression that your business’ communication team will also be active in times of crisis.

5. Provide other means of sharing relevant information to employees

Some information is too sensitive to be shared in social media. In addition, employees should not be forced to post content that is related to their business in their personal social media accounts.

As such, it is important for companies to provide another way for employees to share relevant content without using social media. This includes sms messaging, e-mails and platforms that can be used internally, including Jive and SharePoint.

To improve the resiliency efforts of your company, social media can indeed be a great communication tool.


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Author: Neal Alfie Lasta

I enjoy learning and writing about social media and the latest in mobile updates. Don't forget to subscribe and receive our latest posts in your inbox.

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