Strategies to Handle a PR Crisis with Social Media

In this article, Web Success Team contributors Robert Speyer and Justin Delos Reyes discuss strategies for handling public relations crises through social media.

 

Companies and employees make mistakes. Products sometimes malfunction and services occasionally don’t live up to customer expectations. If the press catches on to your misfortunes, the quickest way to address it is through social media.

Mobilize your social media team and acknowledge that your company is aware of what the press is saying through Facebook and Twitter. But don’t stop there. Your brand’s reputation is at stake when a PR crisis occurs. Here are three strategies you should implement to help your company overcome unwanted attention or bad press.

Let the Boss Speak
Think about the last time you had a bad dining experience. You probably waited 45 minutes for your food, it was cold when you got it, and your waiter/waitress didn’t show any remorse for the inconvenience. Who did you want to speak to at the end of your meal? The manager.

The public doesn’t just want to hear from employees when a PR crisis happens. They want to hear from the person in charge. Put your CEO, Chief Information Officer, or Customer Service/Brand Manager in front of the masses to show that he or she assumes responsibility for your company’s mistake and offers a plan of action with a real solution (and not just a “we’ll look into it” attitude). Show the public that everyone in your company (from executives to lower level employees) stands by the quality of your product.

Use YouTube
In addition to discussing the issue with your Facebook and Twitter followers, consider using YouTube to strengthen your brand reparation efforts. A short video (1 to 2 minutes long) should suffice. In the video, your CEO or another high-level executive should address the situation, clarify your company’s intent, and explain what your company is doing to make things right. Integrate the video into all of your social media platforms, put it on your website, and circulate it on social bookmarking sites.

The faster you circulate the video, the better. A well-produced video (along with an open dialogue between you and the public) can give your company a chance to overcome a PR crisis before the situation escalates into a situation beyond your control.

Straightforwardness Is the Best Policy
The public and the press are not naive. Respect their intelligence by admitting your mistakes or telling your side of the story in a non-defensive manner. If you did something wrong and the reports uncover more than a misunderstanding, be honest about it. We talked about brand ambassadors in a previous post and how they might come to your rescue when the public’s perception of your brand turns sour. They will continue to support you if your tweets, status updates, and videos demonstrate honesty and transparency. Make it easy for everyone else to believe you by posting genuine content.

Clean Up the Mess
How has your company used social media to handle PR crises?

 

 

Janette Leon-Speyer
WebSuccessTeam
www.websuccessteam.com
www.facebook.com/WebSuccessTeam

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