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How to deal with a social media crisis

Blog date

15.11.2018

Author

Phoebe Frost
Account Executive

Account Executive at Speed, Phoebe Frost, recently took part in a crisis simulation to see if she had what it takes to defuse an escalating social media situation.

Last week, while many were out enjoying the heatwave, I headed down to sunny Exeter to take part in an exciting social media crisis simulation with the PRCA South West.

Working in teams of both in-house and agency PR professionals we had to defuse a fictional online crisis for luxury homecare brand, Ashland who was facing claims of employee bullying and harassment. Like so many crises we see today, the conversation had escalated from Twitter and fuelled the debate which naturally gained interest from the media.

As a result, it was all hands-on deck as we monitored our comms channels, drafted reactive statements, liaised with key journalists and communicated with employees to control the situation quickly and effectively. And all within the space of an hour.

What’s more, the simulation worked in real time, with a team working behind the scenes to give us real human interaction and scoring us on our response. So, whilst the situation wasn’t necessarily real, the pressure certainly was!

The great news is our team won and I came away with some great insight for when a real situation strikes. Check out my top tips below!

  • Try implementing a Crisis Leader and Comms Leader – people in charge of approval when a crisis strikes and are in the room dealing with the situation with the team.
  • Swap crisis teams out regularly and give breaks – the situation often becomes very stressful and a well-rested team can respond more effectively.
  • Responding to every individual tweet/message from the public can be really tricky. Try grouping comments by importance (people of influence, company employees, people talking around a similar theme) to ensure that as many people can be replied to as possible.
  • Pin your company responses on Twitter to make sure they are as visible as possible.
  • Always remind yourself of your client’s values. These should be paramount when drafting any statements from the brand.
  • Have a crisis strategy in place. In an ever-increasing digital world, consumers can tap out a complaint or allegation against a company and send it to the world in a matter of seconds, potentially damaging your client’s reputation if they aren’t dealt with quickly and effectively. By having a crisis strategy in place with a well-trained team, you can ensure that you can jump on problems as they arise, defusing any situations before they escalate and gaining your clients trust in your expertise.

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