Crisis PR

Social media is everywhere, giving companies a new way to connect with their target audience. Of course, as valuable as social media can be in the right circumstances, it also adds a certain level of uncertainty to a crisis communication strategy. A network of multiple channels, real-time delivery, and speedy sharing makes it harder for PR agents to manage the spread of information.

The good news is that brands who learn how to use social media to their advantage can actually transform the channel into a powerful system for reputation management. Here are 7 ways to manage crisis communication on social media.

1. Listen More

Most experts focus on talking to their customers through social media, but there’s power in listening too. Brands who listen to their customers, competitors, and even target audience speaking on social channels can come up with crucial content to eliminate problems before they occur.

2. Stay Professional

While social media is an informal platform at its heart, that doesn’t mean that companies can ignore all their communications training. All members of a brand with the power to use social media on that company’s behalf need to communicate with professionalism, honesty, and candor online. Communicating with compassion and empathy will help to build a human presence that mitigates the impact of a crisis.

3. Be Human

As mentioned above, the more “human” a company is on social media, the easier it will be for them to manage their communication crises. People are more willing to forgive a human brand for their mistakes, whereas they expect more from a corporation that comes across as cold and clinical.

4. Respond Quickly

One of the things that make social media so popular is the fact that it’s an instant form of communication. Community managers in a crisis can stop a problem from spiraling out of control by constantly keeping an eye open for issues and responding quickly. The faster the response, the less likely it is that a customer complaint or a bad review will spread so far and wide that it’s difficult to manage.

5. Distinguish Messages

One something goes wrong with a brand’s reputation; it’s not enough to simply respond fast, companies also need to know how to distinguish their messages and say the right things to the right people. Segmenting messages to go out to specific stakeholders, customers, and more through social media can help to protect an organization’s reputation.

6. Replace Scheduled Posts with Authenticity

Many companies keep their social media posts running an automated schedule to ensure that they’re creating a consistent experience for their clients. However, during a crisis, it’s often best to pause these posts and give full attention to the issue at hand. If the company profile continues to publish playful messages during a crisis, this can harm the brand’s reputation and make it come across as unfeeling or uncaring.

7. Keep People Informed

Finally, social media is a great way to keep people informed during a crisis and let them know which steps the brand is taking to deal with the problem. Customers like to know that the companies they buy from are actively working to solve their problems. Keeping silent for too long could fuel the fire in a social media crisis, and a simple message can be enough to eliminate a lot of problems.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.