Social Media Opened the Floodgates in PR Crisis Management Planning

After the Jimmy Kimmel/ Kanye West Twitter feud I began thinking about how social media has changed the way we handle a crisis. Jimmy Kimmel was able to respond to Kanye’s tweets when Kanye bashed Kimmel over a comedy skit. Kimmel was able to almost instantaneously respond to his tweets before things got out of hand.

Look at it this way:

  • Half of Americans own a smartphone.          
  • The New York Times’ iphone app alone has been downloaded over 14.9 million times as of 2012.
  • Twitter has over 500 million active users!
  • 77 % of Fortune 500 companies are active users of Twitter.

Obviously people have access to news and social media 24/7. A crisis can happen at any time of the day and Twitter never sleeps. Once something is uploaded to Twitter or any social media network it can go viral in seconds.  In fact, some of the biggest news stories have been broken on Twitter. This instantaneous communication characteristic of social media opened a flood gate of “what ifs” to PR crisis management planning. People less than 10 years ago weren’t concerned about social media even being an issue in crisis management and now it’s everywhere. Tablets and smartphones blew that market up and users of social media skyrocketed.

What better way to combat social media and instantaneous communication than to join it? People cannot deny that social media or a web presence is necessary for the success of a business and definitely large corporations.

How do you plan for a social media crisis? Well you really can’t other than be proactive. Being tech savvy and knowing the ends and outs of different social media networks is a valuable job skill today. In a time of crisis you must be able to defend your reputation and do it effectively and efficiently.

Here are some tips for PR Crisis Management Planning that I felt were the most valuable:

  • Being a social media addict is not a bad thing in this case. Keep updated with social media by being a frequent user and engaging with consumers and stakeholders.
  • Monitor not only the reputation of your company and clients but competitors as well. Use tools that will scan your social media account, alerting you to a potential crisis or spam. Also, by monitoring your competitors you might learn a thing or two from watching how other people respond during a social media crisis.
  • If a crisis should develop on a particular social media network, stick with that particular network to address the issue. If the crisis is on a multiple platforms, address the issue on each one.
  • Own your brand on social media before someone else does. Customer complaint tweets, blogs or posts should not be the first thing people find when they are researching your company.
  • ·Twitter is just another place to post a 140 character news release. Get your message out there. Journalist use Twitter for story ideas a lot. In fact, Twitter is the news for many.
  • Find a way to make your social media account more human. No one likes talking to a computer and neither do your consumers. Make personalized responses. Maybe change the profile picture to someone within the company or whoever actually makes posts and maintains the media site.
  •  Every employee should be trained to use social media and given guidelines when using social media for the company.

Bottom line: A crisis is impossible to predict. Be proficient with social media and use it to your advantage. Defend your brand.


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