Crisis management has long been an area of practice for public relations professionals, which requires media training of the client, development of key messaging, and an overall de-escalation strategy that includes a media engagement plan. However, PR firms have struggled with how to handle digital crisis management, as the strategies for handling tweets and blogs is very different from handling news stories and interviews.
Digital Crisis Management Information on the Web is Insufficient or Just Plain Wrong
A quick look at web information on digital crisis management shows some general tips as well as some one-size-fits-all advice that really is better for some situations, but not others. For example, this Slideshare on the subject states that “One way messaging doesn’t work anymore in a world where people crave dialogue.” It goes on to state that communicating solely through press releases and scripted interactions “doesn’t satisfy.” However we did just that for a client with a major digital crisis: we set up a blog for the CEO and refused press interviews. In response the press quoted the blog, which made it almost impossible to misconstrue or take out of context, as everything was there in black and white. We coupled this with a blogger media event and social media monitoring, and as a result, we scored a complete press victory. The press lost interest in the issue, and the client suffered no lasting damage to its reputation as well as no interruption in its business.
Quite a few articles recommend having a strategy in place before crisis his. While this is excellent advice, the reality is that you’re likely searching for information because a crisis has already befallen your organization. In that case, you’re probably better off hiring a company that has proven experiencing handling digital crisis issues for brands like yours.
Move quickly, as the speed of response can be directly proportional to the effect of the mitigation. Put another way, a speedy response to a digital crisis may partially or even completely the problem before it escalates. For example, responding in hour six may clarify the issues and reduce the amount of outrage, thereby lessening the number of people sharing negative sentiments about the brand. This can even keep the press from deciding the issue is “news,” as sometimes the most newsworthy part of the story is how many people are talking about the issue.
If you need help with a digital crisis, call us now. We’re happy to provide an initial consultation at no charge.