Crisis management: Prepare to respond via social media

How to avoid being caught flat-footed when disaster strikes.

Social media has become deeply entwined with crisis management, making both monitoring and responding to issues significantly easier, while providing new opportunities for trouble. As is the case with nearly everything, though, being prepared is half the battle. To that note, the Adland Upstart blog recently provided a list of how to be ready for “”when the Twit hits the fan””:

  • Be proactive! Brainstorm worst-case scenarios and develop planned responses that include getting advice from relevant authorities in particular areas: police, councilors, support groups, industry bodies, etc. It’s always good to build a relationship with these authorities, too. Develop a document that can be accessed quickly in case of an emergency, so everyone is clear on the plan of action.
  • Establish presences on Facebook, Twitter, forums, etc., before a crisis, so you already have a base community that is receptive to your brand to consult during the crisis. This will allow you to be a part of the conversations, not just respond to them, which will build credibility—you will be seen as an authority and can avoid potential problems.
  • Create a “dark site,” a website that is dormant but can be pushed live if a crisis arises and the brand needs to respond quickly. The dark site should have your pre-written responses ready to go, including having been approved by all relevant stakeholders so there are no unnecessary delays. This is such an important point, as time is of the essence when a crisis is unfolding and immediate responses are crucial.
  • Get C-level employees aware of your response plans, and make sure they understand the channels so they are confident in the contingency actions.
  • It’s important to involve your legal team throughout the planning process so they understand the nature of social media and the importance of fast responses.
  • Don’t rely on a listening service to pick up a potential crisis; they are too slow to provide information.

Erik Bernstein is publicist/SEO implementer of Bernstein Crisis Management Inc.

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