January 19, 2016
/ by Katie Gaab
Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Snapchat…Today, breaking news is captured, announced and spread faster than ever before thanks to social.
In fact, the Pew Research Center found that 67 percent of smartphone users shared pictures, videos or commentary about local events in 2015.
So how can brands prepare when local events turn into national and global crises in mere seconds?
“Not only do they have to be well prepared, they also need to be mobile,” says Scott Peacock, PR Manager of Visit North Carolina.
At his recent Cision webinar, Scott explored how he and his team responded to a series of shark-related events last summer. During “Prepare for Crises Lurking Beneath Your Brand,” Scott Peacock and Cision’s K.C. Brown discussed how Cision Global Insights helped mitigate the crisis faster by tracking audience in real time, provided qualitative and quantitative data for better decision-making and preserved the state’s tourism during the busiest season of the year.
Here’s a quick look at three of the ways Visit North Carolina was able to steer through a shark-filled summer and tips on how you can be just as successful with crisis management.
At the beginning of the webinar, Scott makes it very clear how he’d like listeners to refer to what happened last summer.
“It’s a shark bite, not a shark attack,” Scott emphasizes.
Sharks, like puppies and babies, use their mouths to discover what’s around them, he continues.
After all, these animals don’t have any limbs or digits to touch what they come across, so they rely on exploratory bites to understand.
Tip: To keep your crisis from becoming over-sensationalized and ensure consistent communication, make sure you and your team knows and understands the correct wording to describe your situation.
And if a community member or media outlet refers to another term, gently remind them, as Scott often does in the webinar, of the right terminology.
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In mid-June, media coverage focused on a map revolving around one city: Oak Island. By the end of the month, two bites turned into seven, spanning along the North Carolinian coast.
Now local authorities and the governor were involved, and Visit North Carolina needed to keep everyone unified on how to respond to the media and community.
Scott turned to K.C. Brown and the Cision Global Insights team for data to help answer the two most important questions: Why is this happening and what can we do about it? How is this affecting businesses and what’s the economic impact on the state’s tourism?
Tip: Use data and insights to uncover factual evidence on why your crisis is happening to help shape messaging points. Whether your partners have a great communication plan already, haven’t dusted it off in a while or have nothing to turn to, make sure they do now.
And if a crisis continues on past initial expectations, continue to update officials with new data, talking points and educational resources so everyone is on the same page, saying the same messaging at the same time.
Between the 25th anniversary of “Jaws,” the release of “Sharknado 3” and the upcoming “Shark Week” specials, Visit North Carolina was facing a lot of bad luck when it came to timing.
To take the state out of the spotlight, Scott chose an expert based in Florida to take on media interviews on the topic. Doing so kept North Carolina out of the story.
K.C. and his team looked to social discussion to provide context for those battling the media’s take on the events. Visit North Carolina was up against the biggest shark story in a decade, but Cision Global Insights found that only seven percent of conversation included mentions of North Carolina.
Seeing that information, Visit North Carolina decided to launch a general beach safety initiative, rather than bring more attention to a shark story that wasn’t as talked about as the media made it out to be.
Tip: In a crisis, people call for action and want immediate answers to “why” an event is happening. Be proactive in your approach to what the media is saying about your crisis, but don’t act too quickly and make yourself or your brand the “boogie man” of the story.
Instead, look at your data and think of ways you can inform and educate audiences about the facts, rather than feed the fuel of circulating rumors.
Images via Pixabay: 1, 2, 3
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