16 effective ways to use social media once a crisis strikes

In the current communications environment, a crisis isn’t something to avoid. It’s an inevitability, says Burson-Marsteller’s chief global digital strategist. He offered some wisdom on how to deal with that.

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Social media can be one of three things, according to Burson-Marsteller chief global digital strategist Dallas Lawrence. It can be an instigator, an accelerant, or an extinguisher. Hear him discuss more about that in this video.

For social media to be the first two of those, brands don’t even have to screw up. It can just happen. About a year after United Airlines came out of bankruptcy, the St. Petersburg News-Post in Florida was archiving stories and removing their datelines. One of those stories, about United’s bankruptcy, hit a blogger’s Google alerts. Soon, the company’s stock was down 90 percent. (It did recover later in the day.)

“This is the speed of communications today,” Lawrence told an audience at Ragan Communications’ PR and Social Media Summit in Chicago. “Nothing happened. United did nothing wrong, and their entire stock price was wiped out because of a mistake.”

Likewise, when the Associated Press’s Twitter feed was hacked last month, the stock market tanked for a few minutes.

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