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 and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.