Every company, organization or government should have a crisis management plan. A crisis is like the reaper himself walking through. It kills the employee and management’s morale, makes consumers loose confidence in you, shareholders get pissed with lower stock price, huge public uproar…. You get the picture, it’s as gloomy as the one beside this line.
So how can a company address a criss when they meet with one? What channels should they use?
It is so important that we don’t forget we live in a world where social media has a huge influence on traditional media. Its also good to note that companies can use social media to cut pass traditional media to reach out to consumers more effectively with a more personal touch. This point was made by PR Blooger.com with the jetblue example.
So what are some of the factors which would determine if social media is the right channel to use during a crisis?
1) Level of the crisis:
So what kind of crisis are we talking here? I guess there are various types that would define a crisis and the severity of it.
- Were there deaths involved like a plane crash?
- Is it product default? Poor customer response? Continuous decline in profits?
- Political or religious issues?
At times, social media might not be the best way to go. The SIA SQ6 Plane crash is an example of the perfect way of handling a crisis. But should a similar accident occur (touch wood. Chinese superstition to ward of bad luck) where would social media fit in?
Would having a social networking group help? Lee Aases seems to think it would with facebook. But would it work in an asian context then? Would using blogs or posted videos online for constant updates help? Any1 got any examples of this?
2) Where did the crisis come from?
Was it started by the blogosphere and picked up by the media? Dell seemed to have done a good job by resolving unhappiness of the blogosphere due to its customer service.
What if its a political, racial or religious issue started by the traditional media and exploded onto the blogospere. How does an organization or company handle it? The forbidden city and starbucks and the Olympics and Carrfour casees are throughly addressed by Michael Netzley, and it is a prime example of a company caught up in a political issue. Was their response too late? How could they have used social media to react to the public uproar?
I seem a little brain dead now but it seems to me that social media is a good channel to use to resolve a crisis. Companies can cut through traditional media, which might sometimes misinterpret a message and make it look bad. Social media has the ability to allow companies to be in control of their own message they want delivered to the public, at a faster speed and at a more personal level. Of course i’m not disregarding the fact that traditional media isn’t important, it gives the company more credibility should the company have a good genuine response.
Social Media in a crisis is not a means to an end, its simply a tool that can help elevate the level of the crisis. Do you agree?