PR Crisis Management Tips in the Age of Social Media

by / ⠀Startup Advice / May 2, 2013

PR CrisisEvery entrepreneur wants to draw attention to their business. A successful public relations campaign means that they will generate more exposure for their products and create a stronger brand for their business. Unfortunately, increased exposure can be a double edged sword when something negative comes out. The popularity of social media means that negative news stories can spread much faster.

Every major corporation has faced a public relations crisis that went viral on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social media sites. Applebees faced one earlier this year when they fired an employee who posted a picture of a receipt on Facebook. The CEO of Applebees had to address these comments and state that the decision was made at the discretion of a franchisee and had no bearing on the company’s policies.

You never know when your organization could face a similar problem. Make sure that you have a policy in place when it does.

You will need to address a public relations crisis as soon as possible. Here is some steps that you will need to follow when you are face such a crisis.

What to Do During a Crisis

Responding to a public relations crisis can be overwhelming. However, the crisis will become bigger if you don’t address it right away. Here are some things you will need to do to contain it.

Have a Plan in Place Beforehand

Social media can spread bad news like wildfire. You will need to anticipate a crisis before it happens. Think about every possible negative scenario and have a plan in place. Keep in mind that the question is now whether or not a public relations crisis will happen. The question is when it will happen.

You will be glad that you chose to be prepared ahead of time.

Identify the Issue

You should know what the problem is before you try to solve it. This seems obvious, but many people overlook this step as they try hastily to address the problem at hand.

Get Accurate Information

You need to address the problem in a way that will make your company look good. You need to assure your customers and the community that you are resolving the problem. However, you need to make sure that the information you present is accurate.

Let’s pretend that the crisis involved a scandal with one of your employees. You may be tempted to assume that your employee couldn’t possibly have been involved. However, you need to be careful when making that statement, because it will come back to bite you later if your trusted employee was guilty. People will respect you more if you show that you are genuinely trying to find out what happened and resolve the problem rather than appear omniscient and make statements that may be proven false later.

Be Honest and Brief

You want to say something that will make your company look good. However, a false statement will always paint you in the worst possible light.

Always be honest with your statements. However, you will also want to make sure that you share only what information is most relevant. There is no need to overshare details that can unnecessarily haunt you later.

Put Out Fires on Social Media

Bad news can spread like the plague on social media sites. You will need to have a strategy in place for addressing these problems.

You must identify all social media platforms where negative news could be spreading. Then you will need to develop a strategy to target it as quickly as possible.

Many people focus primarily on addressing negative news on Facebook. However, Adam Mendelson, the previous public relations director for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, said that they should focus on Twitter first. He said that a terrible news story can go viral within seconds on the microblogging platform.

You will also need to find out what social networking sites your target audiences uses and address the problem there first.

Analyze Internet Publications Efficiently

You should also have a system in place to analyze everything that is being said about your company as quickly as possible. There are a number of social media analytics tools that you may want to try. These include Topsy and Radian6. You should also subscribe to hashtags and Google Alerts updates relevant to your company.

It is imperative that you know what is being said about your company as quickly as possible.

Dealing with Crises is Urgent

Every company will face a public relations crisis at some point. Those crises will spread much faster with social media. You will need to have a plan in place and utilize it when your company experiences a crisis.

Kalen Smith has been an Internet marketer and entrepreneur for the past four years. He writes about how companies can use social media to engage with customers for Clever Time, a small business CRM solutions provider.

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About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.