Digital Crisis Management 101: What Every Company Leader Should Know

We live in a world where one click can create an epic PR crisis for companies of all sizes. Our firm consults with companies and organizations (large and small) and we are always surprised to find that many do not have an existing crisis management plan. In our digital age, every company is at risk of a situation that could jeopardize its reputation in an instant, which is why we’ve outlined some important insights on crisis and reputation management in the digital space. These are all things that we help our clients manage as a professional PR firm.

1. Listen

Consumers are communicating online loud and clear. Find the online communities that are talking about your industry, brand, company, and/or service. Have a plan and schedule for monitoring your social channels for comments. What are they saying? To mitigate the chances of a crisis, you must be aware of issues that are bubbling. The goal would be to respond and address issues with consumers when they are small and personal before they have a chance to go viral and involve a much wider audience.

2. Set Expectations

For small businesses that do not have an army of social media mavens, it might be difficult to keep up with the 24/7 surveillance of their social media platforms. If this is the case, we suggest communicating clearly and visibly the timeframe of which you will respond to issues that are brought to light on social media. For example, you can set the expectation that all comments will be responded to within 24 or 48 hours. If you set the expectation, be sure to stick to it. Not following through will only add fuel to the fire of an unsatisfied customer, or make a satisfied customer that gave you praise feel ignored.

3. Be Transparent

If a negative comment or post makes its way to your company’s social platforms, it’s always best to hit the issue head on and address it directly with that customer. Try taking it offline and communicate with that individual personally. If you remove the post/comment, it might only anger someone more and create a more hostile situation. We also recommend that all companies create and communicate moderation guidelines for their online communities. These moderation guidelines set the tone and expectation of others for how people should communicate in the context of your company. It helps maintain control and oversight with clear standards for online conduct for all employees and other agencies.

4. Respond Thoughtfully

Responding to comments thoughtfully shows that you care, and this could mean the difference between cooling off a potentially fiery PR crisis or keeping it ablaze. Address negative comments carefully and thoughtfully, getting to the heart of the issue. Many people who complain are simply looking for someone to listen, while others truly have an issue that needs to be escalated to operations. Having a PR firm on hand to help you develop a plan for and to craft these responses is always the best measure.

5. Have a Team

It takes an entire team to manage a company’s online reputation. With so many social channels, and so many opportunities for conversation, a lot of work is involved in not only generating content, but also managing it and responding when issues or conflicts arise. We always recommend having a stable of talent, including a dedicated social media team, where access to accounts are managed closely, community managers are designated and trained, and crisis management professionals from a public relations firm who are ready to turn on a dime to address a potential crisis.Our PR experts are here to help you! Call us today (866)252-1750.