What would you do if an unexpected crisis hit your company? Sit back and panic as you worry about your brand reputation? Likely not, but how do we reach our audience and address a crisis in the best way possible? In a recent article in The Public Relations Strategist, Heidi Sullivan mitigates these fears by outlining the importance of having a plan to tackle the process of effective crisis communication. Social media is a great tool for rapid and wide-reaching communication. Sullivan frameworks ways to use social media to address a crisis in these four steps:
- Plan: Crises are unpredictable and spread like wildfire when they do occur. Having a steady plan of action for a crisis will help you respond quickly and accordingly. It is helpful to brainstorm potential crisis situations and have hypothetical response strategies. Have a prepared generic statement ready and outline your social media release strategy. Addressing the issue right off the bat is important in showing your audience you are aware and engaged in the situation. Being prepared will increase your response rate to the situation and therefore show the public you are taking the issue at hand seriously.
- Monitor: Monitoring social media patterns will help you detect a crisis as soon as it comes along. See the pros and cons of what people are saying about your company and if any of these could turn into an issue. This watchdog function is vital in spotting a crisis situation and saving your brand reputation. Once a crisis is over, continue monitoring social media to see what the public thought of your response.
- Respond: A rapid response is vital in having successful crisis communication. Your audience wants to know that you are engaged, aware of the situation and handling the issue. Sending out a quick response and even an apology is important before the issue gets too out of hand. If you plan ahead, you will already have a pre-prepared response ready to go with a few adjustments. Send your response across various social media platforms, but keep the message consistent.
- Review: Analyze your response rate of the crisis and the success of your response with your audience. How did the public react? See what messages bode well with your target audience. Adjust your crisis communication strategy accordingly to see how you can improve the next time a crisis rolls around.
Preparing for communication in a crisis is vital for brand credibility. Follow these steps and you will have better success at handling a crisis.