Handling the Crisis Before It Happens

It’s a wild world out there and that old Boy Scout motto of being prepared is more important and relevant than ever before. There is this light coating of social veneer that makes our society seem rather innocuous. But under that surface is a pack of howling wolves….even hyenas.  You have to be prepared by monitoring your company on all fronts. I don’t say this out of paranoia, but out of experience.

The Internet and especially social media offer us an incredible opportunity watch over your company or organization. What is so great about social media is that it affords us two-way communication and an opportunity to directly engage the public. It is the swiftest means of reaching your audience and it is almost instantaneous.

Keep in mind you are communicating with and not to your customers, prospects and the media. You cannot sit on your response, remember this is a conversation and you have to respond accordingly and timely. When I say social media I mean the usual characters of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Also keep in mind bloggers who already have intimate relations with their publics. Never underestimate the power of bloggers, they wield great influence – keep them in your dialog.

When engaged in social media, you cannot just walk away – you have to stay part of the conversation and create loyalty with your presence and honesty. This is way different than dancing with old-school media as you do not have control over the communication. With social media you are not waiting for your message to be distilled by journalists and passed on to your public. Social media is direct and without via and you can measure the results of your endeavor. You can tell how many folks clicked on your links or retweeted your message and determine how effective you are.

Social media can help you manage your reputation and build awareness for your organization while communicating directly with your public and responding accordingly. In this way you can potentially fend off an impending crisis before it snowballs.

Social-NetworkFirst off monitor the Internet and social media examining what is being said about your group. Don’t wait for negative statements to grow. Head them off with direct honest communication and get things under control.

Create an actual crisis management plan that can be rapidly implemented should it be necessary. You need to determine who gets contacted should a crisis appear to be developing or already happening. This is your first line of response including marketing, PR, customer relations, legal, HR, etc. Have a communications approval line in place so there is immediate action. You don’t want to be running around looking for your CEO when the stuff is hitting the fan. Rapid execution of your plan is imperative, so who is running the show?

Don’t wait for the crisis before building your audience base and team. Get engaged now. Build your following on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Don’t wait for something to happen!

We are basically dealing with three types of media. The first is your traditional broadcast, print and online. Make sure your team knows the players and can reach out to them when needed.

The second is your internal or captured media including mailing lists, website, blog, etc. This is content you completely control.

Next of course is social media encompassing the complete range of platforms from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr to blogs and YouTube. Again build your following today don’t wait for the crisis tomorrow.

By monitoring and engaging you should be able take care of business and not let things get out of control. Don’t wait for the crisis to go into action!