5 Steps to Avert a Crisis Before it Goes Social

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Crisis direct mail; Box © by robhowells87

Historically when a company encountered a crisis which was likely to hit the news headlines, brands and their PR agencies were contacted by the media and asked for a comment or interview. Fast forward to today’s ever-evolving social media landscape and the potential of a negative story going global in seconds is more than likely. So how do we handle the crisis to keep news stories, Facebook posts and Tweets to a minimum?

Below I have outlined a couple of hints and tips which have always held me in good stead:

  • Internal communications is key – when it comes to a crisis there is nothing worse than office whispers and especially in a crisis situation these whispers can escalate rapidly. Whether you have a workforce of one or 1000 it is always important to keep staff, particularly those on the frontline or in a customer service role updated, so that they know who best to transfer calls and queries through to, instead of choosing to ‘have their say’ on the issue;
  • Highlight the importance of the issue – make it clear with your staff that the information you have entrusted them with is highly confidential and that as such, it should not be shared on social channels. That said, every minor detail of the issue does not need to be played out to everyone – a top-line overview is more than necessary;
  • Be prepared – always plan for the worst case scenario. It is a rule I always live by. Prepare statements for use with both the media and social media and train spokespeople on the sensitivities of the subject matter and the approach they should take;
  • Don’t over promise and under-deliver – ensure that no promises are made in the media which won’t be delivered upon and that problems are quickly and effectively resolved in line with the timings you have agreed;
  • If disaster does strike, then act fast – closely monitor social channels and take any issues offline.  If the number of enquires is too large to manage then issuing statements through social channels and on your website is a great way of managing the volume quickly but on message.

Georgina Dunkley is the client services director at one of the UK’s leading integrated PR, SEO and social media agencies, Punch Communications.  With experience spanning a large range of sectors including motoring, financial services, property and technology, she handles everything from media relations and event management to crisis communications and investor relations. Punch is a UK based, search, social media and PR company with the skill set, reach and client base of a global agency. To find out more about digital PR and Punch please visit punchcomms.com or call the team on +44 (0)1858 411600.

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