The advent of social media has been an exceptional tool in helping businesses not only advertise their goods and services but in helping get out brand messaging in a crisis. However, social media can also play a large part in harming a company’s reputation; a simple tweet can backfire enormously; a seemingly harmless Facebook post can go viral…in a negative way.
Businesses and individuals in the public sphere must be cautious when using social media else they can find themselves in hot water and a PR crisis that just won’t go away. These crises affect companies of all sizes. So what do you do in the wake of such a crisis and ensure you don’t make it worse?
1. Always triple check before setting your next post to live
If a post on social media has been reacted to in a negative manner and is swiftly turning into a PR nightmare for your company, you need to ensure nothing else is said immediately. Think very carefully about the next post you make. After all, you don’t want it to turn into an even bigger crisis! The best thing to do is make a neutral statement, ensuring people that you are aware of the issue and looking into the matter.
Never go into details or make throw-away comments when you are in the midst of this PR nightmare. You need to ensure you have the full picture and have investigated everything thoroughly.
2. Don’t engage/enrage trolls further
You will always have those who decide to troll you. They may not even be bothered about your company or business; they just like to get involved in the mudslinging exercise. It is really important that you don’t engage with these people.
Engaging with trolls online will not help you manage the crisis; indeed it could even make the situation a whole lot worse. Be the bigger party and delete the comments they are making, but only if they are clearly offensive or threatening. Alternatively ignore and report them. Handle all other comments with grace and respect and you will find you come out the other end with your reputation intact.
3. Always ensure you keep the public in the loop
Once you have got the lay of the land, you should aim to update your audience. In your update you should aim to provide people with relevant details about what was the cause of the crisis, how you are handling the situation and getting back to business, and then, most importantly, acknowledge the error that was made.
People will be looking for an apology, so no matter how small the fault was, it is important to acknowledge this. Be honest and open and it should help steer you out the other side of the crisis.
4. Be open and honest about your mistakes and learn from them
From beginning to end, you need to ensure you have the entire crisis recorded as well as the steps you have taken to resolve the matter. This will help you prevent crises from happening in the future, and help you manage them if another one does happen to crop up.
Being open about the mistakes that have been made, and transparent about how you are learning from them will help you repair your public image. You have to follow up on the promises that have been made, so any compensation that you have specified should be completed as soon as possible and documented. Be honest and show you mean it; otherwise it will look like a PR stunt.
It’s important to recognise that everyone makes mistakes; no one is expecting your company to be faultless. However, the key thing is to recognise the error and own up to it. Apologise, be friendly and hopefully all will be forgiven.