By Jen Bixler, Senior Director at Cindy Miller Communications
Wishful thinking and denial are not the basis for a strategy
The right preparation will help your brand withstand a social media storm.
Picture this: Late one night, you are scrolling through your social media feed when an alert pops up. An employee is unhappy with a decision you’ve made and decides to air her grievances against your business publicly. The accusations are inaccurate. It’s irritating, but you decide to deal with it in the morning.
By the next morning, the post has taken on a life of its own. Dozens of people have commented. Clients are threatening to take their business elsewhere. A local TV station calls your office. What you thought was a personnel issue has become a full-blown public-relations crisis.
You need to take action. But where do you start? Are you positioned to expect the unexpected? Here are three ways you can effectively address a public-relations crisis.
Take criticism seriously, immediately. Many business leaders cross their fingers and hope a bad tweet, post or review will go away. That’s a bad idea. The longer you wait to respond, the more damage control required. Be prepared to respond immediately to negative comments, false information, or accusations.
Assign a social media watchdog. It’s easy to let social media be an afterthought. But it’s often the first thing a prospective client will see when they want to learn more about your business. How many times have you decided to go — or not go — to a restaurant or a hotel based on reviews? If your business is online, you need someone watching comments about your brand. Assign someone to keep an eye on social media. Make them an administrator of your social channels and have them inform you immediately of any negative comments. From there, you can decide how to respond.
Engage an unbiased observer. When your business is under fire, it’s natural to want to respond emotionally. Consider hiring a crisis communications expert. She can take the emotion out of decisions and can help you decide how to best respond to protect your brand and your business.
You’ve worked hard on your company, so don’t stop now. It’s a good idea to invest in the resources required to protect your brand.