Communication in the digital age: How to handle a crisis

    Crises can make or break an organisation by impacting a company’s reputation. That’s why, communication in the digital age is more important than ever.

    Since the introduction of social media, customers are more connected with businesses and brands than ever before and because of this powerful connection, clients and consumers expect companies to be more transparent and more immediate in their communication – particularly when something goes wrong.

    So, in this digital age, it’s crucial for crisis communication to be using social media to address a crisis by updating the public on what has occurred and what the company is doing to rectify the problem.

    Communication in the digital age: How to handle a crisis

    Social media has greatly impacted the way crises are managed and it is one of several vital crisis management tools used by media teams to mitigate reputational damage. Social media accounts and websites are among the first places customers and the media look for information during a crisis.

    In some circumstances, they can be the launching pad for a crisis, for example when inappropriate content is posted.

    For crisis communication, practical PR strategies are the way to go to ensure the organisation’s reputation suffers minimal damage.

    Our Managing Director Leisa Goddard says having an extensive crisis management strategy will help protect the company’s reputation.

    “Preparation is key when it comes to a crisis,” Leisa says.

    “You need to know what your key messages are, who your spokesperson is and take action quickly.”

    “Often it’s about controlling the conversation surrounding you and the company – you don’t want other voices spreading untruths, so it’s important to get on the front foot early and make a public statement.”

    A comprehensive social media strategy amid a crisis will consist of three things:

    Delivering a message

    When a crisis hits, it’s important to come up with your message as soon as possible. Social media is a great platform to post updates or information to your target audiences and stakeholders.

    However, anything that is posted to social media must be accurate, as there’s a chance of being caught out and making the situation worse. Your message should also be crafted to address those who are affected by or responding to the crisis. In this circumstance, the message should not promote your brand, but reflect concern and assurance that the issue will be resolved.

    Monitoring the message

    Once your message goes out, it’s then time to see how people are responding to it. Social media isn’t just about posting messages, you should also find out what’s being said and what the overall reaction is.

    Listen to what’s being said on Twitter and what people are posting on Facebook and Instagram, to see how the they are feeling about your organisation. Then you’re able to address and respond to any concerns specifically.

    Responding to the message

    Promptly addressing or responding to an audience can help prevent a crisis from worsening. Instead of hiding from the problem, it’s best to respond to the issue straight away and stop it from escalating.

    Leisa says listen to direct questions and comments from your followers and respond accordingly.

    “You should also ensure all staff at the organisation are aware of how to respond should they be approached for comment – a good general rule is that they should be silent on the issue unless they’re a pre-approved spokesperson or part of the organisation’s social media team,” she says.

    “Adoni Media runs media training for spokespeople, to help prepare them for the tough questions should a crisis occur.”