As business owners, a public relations crisis is something we all have to face at some point, and how we deal with it can significantly affect our business. In today’s world, with more and more people using social media, it can be a useful tool when handling adversity. But only when used correctly.
Below are some social media etiquette tips that can help improve crisis communication.
Have a Plan
You never know when a disaster will strike, or what it will be so it’s important to be prepared for anything. With a good crisis communication plan in place, everyone will immediately know what to do, which saves time and money and will allow you to quickly repair any damage to your brand or reputation.
Find the Cause of the Problem
It’s important to find the cause of the issue and why it happened to be able to react accurately. This information will also help you ensure that it never happens again. If multiple staff members are involved, make sure everyone is on the same page so that you can easily stay on top of the problem.
When a problem arises, don’t sit quietly hoping it will go away. The best thing to do is act as quickly as possible, preferably within the first 24 hours. People expect a quick response, and the longer it takes, the worse it looks for you and your business.
If the business is at fault, admit to it and apologize. Everyone, including customers, are capable of forgiveness if you honestly own up to your mistakes.
Read and Respond
Take the time to read every comment and understand what the commenter wants or needs. If possible, respond directly to the person. Either publicly so you can have an open, honest conversation – or acknowledge the issue publicly and then take it to a private or offline conversation.
Never Delete Comments or Argue
It’s easy, and human nature to become defensive – we all do it. But during a crisis people are often riled up, and arguing or deleting comments will only make things worse. Always remain calm and respond to all comments, even negative ones appropriately.
Use the Correct Tone
Because social media channels often target different audiences, they often have different tones. If you use multiple channels, it’s important to communicate the same message across them all, but that message needs to be in the right tone for each particular channel. What works well on a website or media release won’t necessarily work as well on Facebook or Twitter.
It’s important to make sure your website and social media platforms are regularly updated all the time, but it’s crucial during a crisis. People expect up to date information and frequent interaction.
Following these tips will help you be prepared and know how to handle a crisis when it does occur. You’ll be able to quickly diffuse and resolve the situation with minimal damage to your businesses reputation.
Josh Nass is a public relations executive and sought after crisis communications specialist. He regularly appears on Fox News, MSNBC and other leading media outlets to offer his expert commentary.