There is no denying that social networks create significant opportunities for brands, but they can also serve as platforms on which crises can develop and spread like wildfire. Whether dealing with Twitter-conveyed misinformation or an emergency product recall, the following is a quick overview to reference when preparing for or experiencing a crisis situation in a digital age.
1. Prepare in Advance
It is unlikely that brands can prepare for every potential crisis, but thinking through many scenarios in advance is a must. Preparation tactics can include crisis-preparedness audits, messaging workshops and fleshed-out crisis plans. Perhaps your client needs to have a dark site built out that only goes live in the event of an emergency and contains critical messaging information. Whatever the situation or client, being prepared for a “worst-case” scenario makes dealing with a crisis of lower magnitude easier to manage.
2. Identify the Origin
Identifying where a crisis started and where the majority of conversations fueling the crisis are happening are central to mitigating the situation. In a recent conversation about crisis management, Dan Webber, the vice president who leads Edelman D.C.’s digital crisis team, said that tools such as Edelman’s Flow140 can be instrumental in pinpointing online conversation starters and influencers fueling the crisis-related dialogue. Once the cause is clear, your brand can better assess how to respond, and on what scale.
3. Assess the Impact
What are the immediate impacts of the situation? These will likely affect the sense of urgency in your response and tactics, and may include:
Webber notes that sometimes the hardest piece of advice to give clients is to do nothing, and warns that “addressing a crisis incorrectly can potentially escalate the problem.” The full impact of a crisis may not be clear immediately and the situation may loom larger than it actually is, but calibrating response posture against the overall risk should be top of mind throughout and following the life of the crisis.
4. Mitigate the Crisis
Pre-established crisis toolkits and messaging can be helpful in mitigating a crisis. Depending on the specific situation, countering a crisis with ads or promoted posts on social channels can also be a viable strategy when orchestrated correctly. Finally, setting up a command center will allow your entire team to collaborate in real-time. Since crises are dynamic and can be altered by external factors, it is imperative that you are open to adjusting your strategy as needed.
5. Learn From Your Experiences
Practice makes perfect – or so the saying goes. Hopefully you won’t be faced with many crises in your career; however, each crisis presents a unique learning opportunity. Creating case studies or “post mortems” to preserve intelligence gleaned from your experiences and analyzing key learnings can be helpful to reference should a similar situation arise in the future.
What are some other crisis management tactics you can use?
For additional information on Edelman’s crisis and risk capabilities, please visit Edelman.com.
Image credit: Mo Riza
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