Yeah… it happens. Plan for it.
According to Regina Luttrell’s book, Social Media: How to Engage, Share, and Connect, “A 2013 survey revealed that more than 28 percent of reported crises spread internationally within an hour, and over two-thirds spread within the first twenty-four hours” (pg.157).
Five Stages of Crisis Management
Konrad Palubicki from Edelman Digital in Seattle, Washington, developed five key stages to crisis management on the social sphere, they are follows:
- Prepare in advance.
- Isolate the origin.
- Evaluate the impact.
- Mitigate the crisis.
- Learn from the crisis.
It is so vital that your company follows all five steps, if/when a crisis occurs and you’re not prepared in advance you could ruin the reputation of your company for a long time… even forever in the eyes of some.
1. Prepare in Advance
EVERY EMPLOYEE WITHIN A COMPANY NEEDS TO BE AWARE OF WHAT THE COMPANY’S CRISIS PLAN IS… That’s right every company should pre-crisis plan. According to Regina Luttrell’s book, Social Media: How to Engage, Share, and Connect, “Author and crisis communication professor Kathleen Fearn-Banks suggests creating a crisis communication plan. The plan should list the individuals on the crisis management team, generate a crisis audit, and develop key messages, objectives, procedures, and specific guidelines” (pg. 160).
All so true. Preparing a filled crisis communication plan creates no room for questions of what to do when the time comes. You need to react quickly, as soon as possible, really. IF you aren’t prepared you’re going to leave the public to fill in the blanks themselves and that can get UGLY.
In my opinion, crisis communication plans should be MANDATORY in every company.
2. Isolate the Origin
Controlling the crisis situation is SO important. Your company wants to be the one behind the wheel steering the direction of the car… don’t let the car drive off of a cliff.
How do you do this? First and foremost, your company needs to analyze and fully understand the root cause of the crisis, this helps determine if it is a social media crisis and also helps decide what the proper steps are to cleaning up the mess as immediately and accurately as possible.
3. Evaluate the Impact
Regina Luttrell says, “There are two primary audiences during a crisis- those directly affected and those whose attitudes about the company could be influenced” in her book, Social Media: How to Engage, Share, and Connect (pg. 160).
There are several ways to evaluate. According to, enterprisers project.com, these are some tactics to use when dealing with your company’s response to the public:
- Identify obstacles and remove them fast
- Don’t exhibit panic, stress or loss of control
- Exhibit urgency in your body language. Don’t shuffle around
- Find reasons to celebrate small successes and communicate them far and wide
- Agree on deadlines for action
I would agree. All of these tactics are useful and will definitely help your customer service thrive, reaching out to the public during a crisis is important. Again, we cannot let them come up with their own assumptions and let them be stuck thinking of the company’s reputation in a negative way. If a company waits too long to respond they open the door for consumers to think this way.
4. Mitigate the Crisis
I keep saying this but it is so important, the quicker the response, the better chance at blowing out the fire of the crisis. One of the rules of crisis management is to, “stop the bleeding.”
Once the “bleeding” stops, your company should turn it’s focus to what social channels they should continue sending out messages. I’ve always said you should respond to both negative and positive comments from your consumers, it’s important to take in what both sides are saying and let them know you hear them out- good or bad. This is especially important during crisis. You’re bound to get some of the harshest remarks from the public after a crisis hits but you need to respond and respond honestly. It’s best to be upfront regardless if it’s not positive message you wish. In the end, being honest is going to help you more than lying and digging yourself deeper into the whole.
Gregory Ciotti, writer of The Right (and Wrong) Way to Handle a Company Crisis, says, “saying “I’m sorry” is more about being apologetic that the customer’s experience wasn’t the best it could be, and that’s always worth conveying. ”
While saying “I’m sorry” may seem like the right thing to say… it’s only right if you put some emotion into it. You have to mean it.
Don’t stop refreshing your social channels after you think you’ve reached out to people. Even if people aren’t responding to your company’s posts, you still need to continue to update your channels and show you’re still making an effort.
5. Learn From the Crisis
“All crises are learning opportunities” says Regina Luttrell in her book, Social Media: How to Engage, Share, and Connect (pg.162). Crisis is not something that we all want to look forward to but it is something we HAVE to look forward to. No, seriously. We need to plan for this, remember stage 1?
We must learn from the crisis and move forward with it. By analyzing the crisis at hand we are able to help prevent similar future crises- something we should all do.
If you didn’t realize how important crisis management is, I hope you have after reading this blog post! Do you think it’s more important to respond immediately on a social media channel or wait it out a little longer so you can publicly address it at a conference open to the public?
Leave your answer in a comment below!