Mar 25, 2016 / by Katie Gaab

Nearly every brand is on social, but 48 percent of the communication professionals manning those channels feel the risks of a crisis outweigh the benefits social provides. Why?

Brands can’t control the message on social. This reality is terrifying, if your brand is not equipped with the right best practices and social monitoring and engagement technology.

Those that do, however, can determine if a crisis is worth responding and how to react. Here are the two most important questions to ask your crisis communication team during a real-time crisis:

1. What is the impact?


While it’s easy to panic once your brand is dealt a bad hand of cards, it’s not always worth your energy or time.

The key issue to focus on when monitoring social media is how often your brand is being talked about and what exactly is being said. Understanding how much attention a crisis is getting on social media and how that will affect your audience is vital to determining the impact.

For example, when Visit North Carolina had to deal with a summer filled with shark bites, public relations manager Scott Peacock looked at a few factors to determine how much impact the crisis had.

Scott looked primarily at mentions of shark bites referencing the state as well as how social was affecting booking trends for the coast’s beach rentals. By working with a neutral party like Cision Global Insights, Visit North Carolina was able to get the reality check it needed to determine its course of action: not to add fire to the over-sensationalized media coverage.

As the crisis unfolded, Scott altered and monitored keyword terms and determined the state suffered no negative economic impact because he found limited  instances of people tying the shark bites back to North Carolina and zero cancellations announced on social.

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2. What should be done?



Crises, like rainstorms, differ in size, time and impact — and sometimes they go away as quickly as they come into view. To know what to do to protect your brand and how to do it, you must look at the impact a crisis has on real-time social conversations.

Once Scott’s team noticed conversations around shark bites had more to do with “Jaws” and the upcoming “Shark Week” program on Discovery than North Carolina’s beaches, he decided to lay low.

He did not push local tourism partners to secure TV interviews. Instead, Scott told them to focus on beach safety initiatives and shifted the conversation farther away from the hyped media coverage.

With real-time data, you can show stakeholders how you’re mitigating a crisis, what impact it’s having and how you were able to come to the decisions you made.

As Cision Senior Insights Analyst Marsha Robie points out, “There is significant value in being able to identify how the conversation shifted after you took action.”

Data helps pinpoint realities that communication professionals may be overlooking when under the stress of a developing crisis. But when a brand includes media intelligence in its crisis communication strategy, it will better navigate sticky situations and return to normal operations.

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Images via Pixabay: 1, 2, 3

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About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.