2010-02-18

The Role Social Media Plays in Crisis Management

Social Media's booming is now recognized by almost everyone. A recent article about " Five Steps to Better Crisis Management in PR Week by Kate Magee has put using social media as the "biggest change for crisis management".

There are two major reasons for that: one. social media provides instant communication channel which makes bad news travel even faster and more difficult to control, so it can be the biggest threat in terms of crisis management. On the other hand, just because of its direct, instant and influential style, using in a proper way, social media can greatly help with the communication and the crisis management by clarifying misleading and exaggerate messages and sending out proper information in time.

"Eurostar's recent crisis, when snow-disrupted trains left passengers stranded during the week before Christmas, was a classic example of why having a grip on social media is crucial. Passengers were tweeting complaints and updates about the situation online. But Eurostar was hindered from the outset - it did not own its 'eurostar' or 'eurostar uk' name on Twitter."

'Digital has changed everything,' says Alex Woolfall, head of issues and crisis management, Bell Pottinger. 'Our starting point for clients is now finding out where an issue is going to break online.'

According to Martt Cartmell in PR week, "half of all agencies (51 per cent) had a client that had exp erienced a crisis management situation involving social media in the past 12 months. Some 61 per cent said the use of social media had exacerbated the story, while 45 per cent said it gave journalists easy access to disgruntled people. "

Therefore it is clear that social media is playing a more and more important role in crisis management as it's accelerating the news no matter in a good way or a bad way. To use it to help with the crisis, honesty should still be the priority in terms of PR strategy. With social media, people are having more close contact with each other, and any deliberate spin or made-up stories would be easily exposed, and influence other peers. For corporate, building up a personal, sincere and active social media image is one of the best ways to help with crisis management. And they are cheap.

One last thing is the proactive procedures. An active social media account is absolutely essential. Eurostar didnt have a twitter account, but the situation would be any better if it had a twitter account but hadn't logged in for ages. Audience needs to feel the genuineness to become interactive with the corporate on social media platforms during crisis management.

Therefore, use social media as the weapon in Crisis management, not just a new fancy toys just to show how “ techny savvy" the company is.


References:

http://www.prweek.com/uk/news/search/986223/Crisis-Communications-Five-steps-better-crisis-management

http://www.prweek.com/uk/news/search/990713/Corporates-increasingly-turn-social-media-mend-damaged-reputations/

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