24 May 2011

Crisis Communications and Social Media

I read a piece by Chris Syme called "Five Social Media Must-Haves for Crisis." Nothing about it seemed wrong to me - she listed 5 tools you should have if your company faces a crisis.  She included a dark website (i.e. a page you can make public in the event of a crisis), a Facebook page, a Twitter account, some monitoring systems, and a policy for your company on social media.  All good things, all useful, all important.

I think she left the most important one out - so important that she'd probably suggest it goes without saying, but in my experience I've had to say it - you need relationships.

Companies who are bracing themselves or preparing for a crisis need to take stock of the people who might rush to their aid (or at least provide a kind word) online.  I've been harping on this for some time now:
So if you're an organization in the middle of a crisis, you can't depend on news organizations to bring ample, experienced resources to bear and you can't depend on "some guy on Twitter" to get all the facts, what do you do? I say prepare for your crisis now. Build up more sophisticated monitoring systems that incorporate social media tools. Understand how information travels today - for example pay attention to the large and growing network of journalists on Twitter, and create lists of beat and trade reporters and other influentials. Most importantly - build relationships with those influential people now. Their learning curve isn't as steep because they already know you and your organization if and when a crisis hits. They will also be more likely to seek out your opinion or give you the benefit of the doubt. You're never going to get everything 100 percent right in a crisis, but these steps give you a fighting chance.

Emphasis mine. Again.

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