July 21, 2015
News has always been perceived as traveling fast, particularly bad news. As Mark Twain said over a hundred years ago, “A lie can travel halfway around the world, while the truth is putting on its shoes.” This has never been truer than right now, with nearly half of the world’s population being active Internet users.
So what’s an executive to do? Here are five action items to start incorporating into your crisis communications plan today.
- Become educated as to your online landscape. From a crisis standpoint, social intelligence provides regular threat assessment and a means to quantify and qualify the threat as it emerges. Who is talking about your group or hot button issues online? What is the sentiment of the conversation? Where is the conversation taking place — Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, in chat rooms and so forth? There are a number of strong social listening tools out there, but for many an ongoing license can be cost prohibitive, not to mention hiring someone with the analytical skills to decipher all of the data. Consider engaging a consultant or agency to create a benchmark study for you, to provide a baseline assessment to work from going forward.
- Add online crises to your plan. The key to success of any crisis communications plan is thinking outside the box – what are all the things that could possibly go wrong? When we talk about crises online, we’re not only talking about bad news moving quickly. Make sure to add digital crises to your list of scenarios, such as website hacks, rumors, fake social platforms, and social platform takeover.
- Get your owned media channels crisis ready. Your online owned media channels include your website, all of your social media channels, and any online publishing you do. Job #1 is to make your website responsive, meaning it will work well on all devices and screen sizes, from mobile phone to tablet to desktop. Also, check your social channels. Are your profiles up to date? Are you adding content regularly? Are your audiences engaging? Are you growing your following? The wider your reach, the more useful these channels will be in a crisis.
- Develop stand-by digital content. The same way your crisis plan calls for some basic statements and donut hole press releases, you should create some generic digital content that you can quickly access in a crisis situation. Think about developing images, b-roll video, dark pages on your website, Facebook content, Tweets/hashtags and infographics.
- Plan to add digital advertising to your crisis outreach. Having solid information on your website is one thing. Having advertising that directs everyone searching the topic to your website content, thereby amplifying the reach and impact of your messaging – now, that’s priceless.
Arguably, the biggest threats to an organization today are those that take place online. Make it a priority to understand the digital landscape and be prepared. Crisis management today necessitates an understanding of new media, social listening and what you need to respond to.