Content from Ragan’s Annual Corporate Communicators Conference
Would a crisis situation catch your company off guard?
Just because you haven’t faced one doesn’t mean you won’t. Instead of shaking in your boots, be ready.
Dallas Lawrence, chief global digital strategist for Burston-Marsteller, offers 12 tips:
1. Know and engage key conversation drivers early and often. Find the people who are talking about your brand. Engage with them and keep the conversation going.
2. Know your antagonists. Identify them. Watch them. If they disseminate inaccurate information about your brand, you need to be there to make it right.
3. Avoid the information vacuum. Lacking official news, CNN scraped together what it could to inaccurately report “breaking news” during the Boston bombings. Don’t try to be first—be accurate.
4. Develop clear and effective platform-appropriate messaging. Lawrence cites the Domino’s pizza crisis that featured two employees doing disgusting things with pizza, recording it on video, and posting it to YouTube. Lawrence says Domino’s was right to respond in the same medium—video.
5. Own your brand before someone else does. Social media makes it easy for people to hijack brands by creating fake accounts. Own your space in social media to ensure no one tells your story for you.
6. Know who speaks for your brand. Identify your spokesperson and arm him with information.
7. Integrate your social media channels. Are your social media channels integrated to amplify each other? Have a strategy in place.
8. Make sure you know what you’re talking about. Ashton Kutcher expressed outrage after Joe Paterno was fired and later admitted he didn’t know anything about the situation. Don’t pull an Ashton Kutcher.
9. Own up quickly. “There is an enormous willingness to forgive, as long as you’re willing to admit you were wrong,” says Lawrence.
10. Use humor—if appropriate. Sometimes a situation is so bad there’s only one tool you can use—humor. “This is a very tricky weapon to use,” cautions Lawrence. You don’t want to use it in life and death situations or tragedies.
11. Beware of data-hunters. “If you are in business today, you are in the business of data,” says Lawrence. There are people who are aggressively trying to get your information. Have a plan in place to protect it.
12. Arm your employees. Employees are your secret weapon. Tell them what they can do on social media—not what they can’t. Arm them with information and empower them.