Do you recall the Social Media PR disaster of the #susanalbumparty campaign that took the internet by storm around the time of Susan Boyle’s Album Party?
Or perhaps the poorly timed #QantasLuxury hashtag that was hijacked by disgruntled customers after they were inconvenienced by the industrial disputes that grounded their entire Qantas fleet Back in 2011?

Social Media PR Disasters

Whilst social media nightmares are few and far between for most businesses, history demonstrates that things can and do go wrong in the world of social media. Therefore, you should protect your business by developing an online issues and crisis management plan that will act as your on-line insurance policy in the event that a social media PR disaster hits your business.
Social Media PR disaster sign

Online Issues And crisis Management Plan

Gerry McCusker, author of Public Relations Disasters: Talespin–Inside Stories and Lessons Learnt presented a brilliant session on online risks and crisis communication at #SocialBiz14Here are some things to consider in putting  together an online issues and crisis management plan for your business that were taken from his presentation:

  • Create a crisis management team (in advance of a crisis).
  • Train a solid cross-functional team with your tightly managed triage system.
  • Use a secure cross-platform social media monitoring platform (e.g. Hootsuite) to bring all your social media assets together in one place so you can monitor and respond in a timely manner if something kicks off. Make sure this is mobile ready also, as crisees don’t only happen 9-5.
  • Make sure that your customers have a good perception of your responsiveness (i.e. your ability to scale up and back down).
  • Activate your crisis management plan in the event of a crisis.
  • Focus on the facts – Social media monitoring should tell you about the context, key players and aggravating circumstances.
  • Don’t take anything at face value – You don’t know the whole story. Find the truth, rather than talking to lies and mistruths.
  • Determine what the motives are – So you can respond with emotional intelligence.
  • Get humble – Express regret and take responsibility (or distance yourself if you are not at fault).
  • Participate in remedial action – ASAP.
  • Understand your reactions – Aim to positively inform rather than painfully inflame the situation.
  • Sort it out or shut it!
  • Let everyone you know how well, quickly and effectively you responded.
  • Consider your reputational baggage – There is no debating in a madhouse!
  • SEO all social media platforms so people can find your stance regarding the issue in the short, medium and long term via search.
  • Mind your language – Be approachable, consolatory and open (not arrogant, blustery and aggressive).
  • Become an authority on the topic – Set up an aggregated social newshub (e.g. so that all your social assets are displayed under one roof.
  • Continually monitor the situation – Are the messages you are putting together having the desired effect? If not, change your messages up. Don’t stop – keep the flow moving!
  • Be nimble – Stay flexible and scale up and down as required. Things can change quickly in a crisis.
  • Build valuable reports and insights post-crisis so you can learn from this is future.
  • Isolate distinct instances where you helped people

Make sure you have proper protection for your most valuable business assets. The reputation of your business is no doubt one of those assets. An online issues and crisis management plan is your on-line insurance policy in the event of a social media PR disaster storming it’s way through your business.
Do you have an online issues and crisis management plan for your business? If not, now is the time to develop one before a social media PR disaster hits your business and it is too late!