When I’m talking to clients about their social media implementation plan, its surprising how many of them don’t have an effective Crisis Management plan in place. They have no procedures in place to deal with an online or crisis catastrophic physical event involving their employees and the results can be devastating.
Take the Toyota crisis earlier this year. Toyota initially had no plans in place to deal with communications with customers and remained largely silent until the crisis has escalated to global proportions with an estimated 10% wiped off the value of the brand. A huge impact for the company. Give Toyota credit though – when the crisis escalated everyone was kept well informed by blogs and Tweets etc. But it seemed to have come too late to keep the reputation of the brand.
I think that this issue and others like it can be solved by a structured brand monitoring program. This would avoid flare ups , like the debacle over the Eurostar trains stuck in the tunnels, or the Domino’s video of staff spitting into Pizza and posting the video onto YouTube (which lost the company 3% from their profits).
Brands can turn issues into non issues due to engagement with customers.
Engagement and proactive conversation which reduces the customers pain and keeps them informed. If you keep your customers close by keeping them informed. You need to keep them informed because if you don’t then the media will. And there’s another lesson…
The media is not your friend.
They will kick you when you’re down.
I don’t even mean the traditional media either, any special interest group that engages in conversation will be the first to criticise if you don’t keep them well informed. And inform them OFTEN!
When Ford had an issue with The Ranger Station, Scott Monty from Ford sorted it all out using social media, quickly and easily (real the full story here)and doing great things for Fords reputation. He satisfied the customers needs about knowing hat was going on NOW. He communicated in almost real time – and kept the community informed and happy. This stopped speculation on other 3rd party sites and drew attention right back to where t was happening – from the team that was involved – at Ford.
Usual PR diversionary tactics and tricks – delay, deflect defend weren’t needed at all – and this helped in the crisis management strategy. What worked much better was honesty, candour and total transparency – which is a much better tactic.
After all – the difference between a crisis and an emergency is that everyone is drilled in emergency procedures (think fire crews and cabin crew). Everyone needs to be trained in old and new media and how to communicate effectively. With an effective crisis management plan and procedures in place, you can add your social media emergency drill to your standard implementation plan, drill everyone and make everyone aware of what they need to do when – or if the crisis arrives.
And then you’ll know what to do…but more on that next time…