In a world of social media, there is no such thing as a small crisis. When a simple tweet from a disgruntled customer can today prompt a global backlash, PRs and marketers who are in the forefront of communications must be armed with the skills to cope and respond to a crisis as it unfolds.
However, research indicates that while as many as 84% of companies recognise the importance of crisis communications, few actually have a plan in place. ‘PRs need to have a documented crisis communications plan in place – they should know who will be the first to respond to the media when the phones start ringing,’ says Kathryn Kelly, a PR and media consultant and our host for the most recent Vuelio webinar titled ‘5 Steps to Managing a Crisis in a Social World’ that took place on 8 October.
Kathryn discussed the impact a social crisis can have on a brand’s reputation and revenue, how to identify and avoid a potential crisis and the steps to consider when putting a crisis management plan in place.
Some of the key takeaways from the webinar are as follows:
1. A crisis can cause severe damage to a company’s reputation and revenues as well as permanently impact customer confidence in the brand. It is very important that in a time of crisis, the customer is put first.
2. A documented crisis communications plan must be in place which identifies the chain of command. Decisions such as who will respond to the media, what the social media strategy will be, legal action etc must all be determined and clearly outlined.
3. Social media is your crisis early warning system. Monitoring your own brand on social media as well as your competitors can help brands stay abreast of what is being discussed online and respond real time.
4. If some big news is being announced, particularly if it is of negative nature, the company must be prepared for the worst and know how to deal with it from the start
5. Practice a crisis – Journalists write up different outcomes for big anticipated news in advance. For PRs, even though the practice crisis is unlikely to resemble the one you actually face, the preparation is valid.
5. If things do go wrong, brands must immediately acknowledge their mistake and apologise to customers.
6. Reassurance is key – brands need to let their customers know that things are under control. This is the first step towards building back trust.
While the recording of the webinar and a blog post answering all the questions raised by attendees will soon be available on our website, below is a look at some of the fantastic feedback and engagement the webinar generated.
Thanks to @Vuelio for an educational webinar on Managing a Crisis in a Social World. Very fast paced and fascinating.
— Wendy Roberts (@WendyRobertsPR) October 8, 2015
— Beth Rees (@waverleywelsh) October 8, 2015
— Jenny McNicholas (@JennyMcNicholas) October 8, 2015
— Dawn O’Brien (@dawn_obrien) October 8, 2015