Managing crisis in the digital age

Crisis 225x300 Managing crisis in the digital age

Does the potential of a PR crisis played out in the modern social media environment keep you up at night? If so, this post and the presentation, created in conjunction with Edelman crisis management expert Grant Smith, at the bottom may provide some guidance.


Managing Crisis in the Digital Age

Last week I was invited to present on the topic of Managing crisis in the digital age at the PR and Communications’ the Future of Social Media Forum.

The event was a three day conference for people in the PR and marketing industries and  included presentations from the likes of Gavin Heaton (servant of Chaos), Ian Lyons (who I had never met before), Alexandra Kentman (who I sadly missed) and fellow PR agency staffer Dan Young.


The presentation in summary:

The context:

  • Social media in and of itself is not the cause of crisis, it is merely a vehicle that people use to communicate about or learn of a crisis
  • Social media has, however, changed fundamentally the speed of response required to get on top of a crisis at the early stages and requires constant responses throughout the crisis
First things first:
  • Organisations need a way to identify the differentiate between an issue and a crisis. An issue is unfortunate, a crisis prevents business as usual
  • Crisis communication is part of the solution, but it isn’t the solution. An organisation’s (note I am not saying the PR person’s here) primary focus should be on finding the source of the crisis and fixing it
Five steps for managing crisis in the digital age:
  • Prepare - every organisation should have a crisis management plan that is ready to manage crisis in the digital age. This includes identifying all potential crisis scenarios and having Q&A documents with responses ready for multiple formats including Facebook and Twitter
  • Listen constantly - listening constantly to conversations happening around your brand online should be standard practice for any business of consequence
  • Prepare to respond quickly -  the news cycle moves at blistering speed today. It is better to be part of the conversation clarifying you are seeking more facts than not at all
  • Online visibility - nobody is better placed to own the facts about a crisis than those in the middle of it. Owning the destination for facts about your crisis is crucial. Consider preparing a dark site that can be turned on in times of crisis and also set aside budget for an SEM buy to direct people into your online destination
  • Train staff and practise - in the modern environment potentially everyone is a spokesperson. Train a wide range of staff and practice regularly. Crises have a knack for appearing when key members of your team are away from the office

What do you think? Do you agree? Is there anything you would add to my advice?

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