Social media and a crisis: Respond – quickly and regularly

In 2009, two pizza employees posted an inappropriate video on YouTube. You might have heard about it through Facebook, Twitter or a traditional news source. Last month, a well-known non-profit was in the midst of a crisis regarding eliminating grants to another well-known non-profit. I’m sure you heard about that crisis as well.

The pizza chain responded quickly, with an apology YouTube video from the CEO. That’s smart, because YouTube is what got them in trouble in the first place. They also regularly sent out information regarding the fiasco and kept everyone informed of what happened, and the fate of the two employees (they were fired).

The well-known non-profit did not fare as well. They responded too late and manipulated their social media sites by deleting comments.

What can we learn from these two situations? A lot:

  • Be the first to get your message out… then continue to inform. Release what you want, when you want….but it’s more important than ever to release SOMETHING. Gone are the traditional “news cycles.” We don’t have the luxury to wait until the 6 pm newscast. Breaking news is published via Facebook, Twitter, and websites in a matter of hours, if not minutes.
  • Be proactive, regularly. This is along the same lines as the above, but once you push your information out, don’t stop. If you have nothing new to say, say so. Keep the communication lines open. If you are silent, the media will find someone who isn’t, and they might just be your worst nightmare. Don’t invite speculation…inform the media and the public about the situation as best you can.
  • Use your social media channels. Respond (if appropriate) to consumer questions or statements. And by all means, DO NOT delete negative comments, unless they are blatantly racist, have foul language or are spam. You will get MORE negative press if you delete comments, than if you let them stay live on your social media platforms.
  • Make information accessible. Everyone is busy, especially reporters. Make sure your online newsroom has background information readily accessible. And make sure your spokesperson answers media inquiries promptly. Or at least give the reporter a time they can expect your spokesperson to get back with them. In this case, silence IS NOT golden.

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