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Crush Crises Before They Spread: A Q&A With Peter LaMotte

It takes only a minute for a crisis to harm your brand, especially in the age of social media. But what can you do when the masses control the message?

Peter LaMotte discussed at his recent webinar, showing the keys to crisis management, how you can reduce brand vulnerability by preparing for crises in peacetime and more.

The webinar generated a lot of discussion, and Peter didn’t have time to answer all of the questions. Below Peter answers many of the questions he couldn’t get to, teaching us how to deal with crisis communication in a social world.

Q: Any advice on how to best monitor and react for online engagement of media during a crisis?

A: The key for any industry, especially ones where brand engagement is absent online, is to monitor for terms associated with your brand and industry. For example, term association may be technical or may be labor related, but because threats to a brand can come from anywhere, it’s important for a brand to be actively listening beyond just their brand name or product.

Q: Are there ways to monitor for social and online engagement without Twitter or Facebook? Should we look at the media’s social channels to see if they are sharing the crisis story and if people are commenting?

A: Monitoring is more about listening to conversations that may or may not directly involve your brand. You should listen to your competitors, associations, suppliers and customers. After all, when the crisis hits anywhere within your supply chain, it will affect you one way or another.

Q: How do you recommend dealing with negative comments on your Facebook page?

A: You should never delete Facebook posts unless they violate terms that you have set out (and of course Facebook policy). The better option is to engage in the discussion. Address concerns and drive them to other platforms to get more information or if needed drive them offline to get more help to solve their issue.

Q: I work for a new brand. What’s the first step in building a network of influencers/champions?

A: Just remember that it takes time to build that network. In some cases it can take years to build a hard-core loyalty. However, start by engaging with those online who are already talking about your industry. If you are creating a new industry, look for those engaged in adjacent industries.

Want to see Peter’s whole webinar? Click here to watch it on-demand for free now!

Q: When trying to build your brand during peacetime, is it a good idea to focus on a specific location (social media) to build brand advocates rather than focusing on your company’s national influence?

A: I hate to say it, but “it depends.” In my opinion, you start locally to support the larger efforts. Engagement is all about storytelling, and it is a lot easier to find those engaging stories locally. Use them to tell your larger brand story nationally.

Q: When possible, should a company or brand reveal their own problem to minimize crisis? For example, a company suffering a data breach giving exclusive information to a media outlet before it can be reported elsewhere?

A: It would depend on the legal and business ramifications. However, in your crisis team’s planning sessions, it should be considered.

Q: Any tips on how to best react to a crisis once it’s happened. Sometimes we don’t find out until our client tells us the media is calling them.

A: The first thing to do when you find out about a potential crisis is convene the crisis team. If you have your scenarios prepared, it will guide you closely to what you need to react to and what you can wait to pass by.

Q: How do you deal with lawyers who don’t want to comment during a crisis? How can we educate lawyers that communication is important while still acknowledging possible legal liabilities?

A: More often than not lawyers are the ones that call on crisis firms. If you have a lawyer afraid to speak to the press, then show them a reality where you don’t respond. Give them the examples that illustrate companies that ignored public opinion.

Q: I work for a federal agency with a checkered past. How does an organization that people don’t necessarily identify with (except when they don’t get what they want) get influencers?

A: Look for the silver linings that make for good storytelling. FEMA is a perfect example. There are numerous stories of how they have put peoples lives back together.

Q: I have a very small company.  My partner and I will be the full team, as we wear many hats.  Any advice to help us avoid tunnel vision?

A: Having run a start-up for a few years, I fully appreciate how difficult it can be to stay on top of best practices. My personal recommendation is to take a little time each day to read relevant blogs. Also when you see events that other companies are dealing with, make sure that you pay special attention to how they communicate, reach and address the issue. There is a lot to learn from other’s mistake and successes.

Q: How can you coordinate social media crisis response when your organization is very spread out?

A: When you are stretched thin or simply don’t have the staff, put the onus on one or two individuals to deal with the crisis, rather than a whole team. However, make sure that those who you have appointed are especially communicative as to their approach, plan and response.

Q: After a problem has been resolved, how long should you continue to address comments/questions on social media related to the crisis? Is there any value in moving on?

A: You should always maintain awareness. The rule I try to stand by is: if it is no longer affecting your business in any current or potential way, then move on.

Q: How do you implement/manage a crisis plan when your local organization is managed by a national organization?

A: The key when you are part of a larger organization is coordinate. Even as the local or regional office you are representing the larger brand. Often the parent body will allow you to run with the strategy, but you always want to make sure you communicate back so that everyone is on the same page.

Q: In case of an event and if the company has a video page ready, do you recommend we encourage comments on that video page so it keeps it off the main social media pages?

A: I hate to say it, but “it depends.” Leaving comments open anywhere means that you need to read and engage with those comments. If you don’t have the resources to manage all of your social outlets, then limit what you allow comments on. Never be caught with a platform that is unmonitored. You risk a discussion about your brand taking place without your voice being in the mix.

Want more crisis communication advice? Click here for our free 8-step guide now!

About Guest Contributor

Cision invites PR and marketing professionals to share their best practices and advice with the Cision Blog audience. To share your story, contact blog.us@cision.com

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