As social media’s popularity rises, the likelihood of a threat coming from a digital platform increases as well. Without a crisis communication plan in place to stop threats from escalating to crises, brands often fail to save their reputations from becoming tarnished.
Peter LaMotte’s recent “Crush Crises Before They Spread” webinar provided attendees with examples of internal and external threats, explored how to incorporate influencers into a strategy and outlined eight steps to prepare for digital crises.
Peter advises implementing these eight steps into your crisis communication plan:
1. Identify Influencers
“These people are already out there, you just have to find them,” says Peter. “Simply provide them with the incentive to jump on board.”
2. Identify Stakeholders
Stakeholders typically include shareholders, unions and customer advocates. If they’re affected by your brand’s actions, add them to your list.
3. Always Be Monitoring
Listen in on conversations taking placing online and in the media to understand what topics are being discussed and how they relate to your brand.
Consistent monitoring allows you to see the crisis coming if you look for it. “Don’t wait for the wave to hit the shore, look for the fluctuation in the ocean,” says Peter.
4. Assess and Identify Potential Risks
If you actively practice social listening with today’s advanced tools, you’ll be able to locate customer dissatisfaction and take action before one person discredits your official messaging or tarnishes your reputation with a complaint.
5. Create Messaging Platforms
Peter stresses the importance of setting up dark sites (landing pages and messaging developed in advance of crisis) so that when a crisis happens, you’re prepared, not panicked. By assessing and identifying the potential risks, you’ll know what to address when setting up notifications for your customers.
“I can guarantee you that every major retailer out there has a data breach platform ready to go,” says Peter.
6. Build Social Guidelines
For general guidelines on messaging, be sure to address the five W’s. Think about who will talk on behalf of your organization, what they will say, when and how often they will address the public, why they would speak and where they will communicate.
Figure out where the conversations are happening and address it there. If someone speaks up on a different platform, redirect them to where you are talking about the crisis.
7. Integrate Your Overall Corporate Crisis Plan
While brands rely heavily on digital methods to communicate with their audiences, they should not forget about all that’s involved in the traditional corporate crisis plan.
“Digital is not the end all be all. It’s part of a larger crisis plan,” Peter says. “It’s far too often looked at as a standalone process and it can’t be.”
8. Test, Execute and Review
In today’s world, crisis management comparable to choose your own adventure books. The possibilities of where a path will take you next are endless. As such, you should constantly test your plan to ensure you have every potential crisis covered.
It’s a living, breathing document that we’re constantly working on, says Peter. Reassess and reevaluate at every opportunity to add new steps to the plan.