One day you’re producing thought-provoking and engaging content that’s generating all the right attention online – and the next you’re kneeling at the feet of your social followers, begging for forgiveness. What happened? The internet can be cruel. Put something out there that people don’t like and you’ll hear about it. Whilst comments written in ‘angry’ capitals and plenty of exclamation marks are probably the best you can hope for during a crisis, you should prepare for much worse – after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. With this in mind, the Contentworks team has put together a PR checklist and 3 ways social media can fix your PR disaster.
1. Make a Decision Framework For PR Disasters
Having a solid disaster plan in place is crucial to being able to manage a crisis if it does happen. Knowing exactly what you should do and when will save you a lot of hassle down the line, so here are several things to consider:
- Who are your decision makers?
- Are they the right people to make social media updates?
- Which communication channels will you use?
- What will you do if key players are away?
- Do you have an “out of office hours” emergency plan?
Take time to think about the above bullet points carefully. Managing online PR during a disaster takes incredible skill – and if you get it wrong, things could spiral out of control quickly as United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz found out in the wake of the overbooked airlines incident back in April 2017.
Following the maltreatment of a doctor who was forcibly and violently removed from a United Airlines flight, Mr Munoz issued a somewhat lukewarm and detached apology which did him no favours with the social networking community:
What Munoz did: The first statement that Munoz issued had the word ‘apologize’ in it, but it was not directed towards the victimised doctor. “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,” is not something you say after a bloodied man was forcibly dragged out of your plane.
Social media fix: Publish a heartfelt apology to all parties affected via all your social media platforms, with particular emphasis on the person/s hurt. Remember to acknowledge responsibility for the incident. It may feel like saying sorry for something you think you did not do, but people will accept this better than the alternative.
2. Get Your Facts Straight During a PR DisasterIf things go wrong, be sure to get your facts straight and communicate them internally Click To Tweet
Miscommunication is one of the biggest causes of bad PR fallout on social media. Once you know the score, it’s time to update your channels. Here are some channels you may wish to consider:
- Email blast
- Social media channels
- Website homepage
- Press releases
- Pause scheduled posts
- Update any ads if necessary
Be sure not to misspell any names or make additional PR errors while trying to recover from your initial mistake. All apologies and follow-up content should be closely edited to avoid another surge of negative press.
3. Respond Quickly To Your PR Disaster
The first 24 hours are crucial after a PR faux pas and the longer you wait, the more the online rumour mill will kick into gear. Of course, responding quickly doesn’t mean cutting corners.
Here are some big No Nos:
- Don’t delete critical comments – people have screen grabbers and will call you out on it.
- Don’t get into arguments – The role of social media managers during a PR crisis is a bit like a hostage negotiator. Stay calm, cool and in control.
- Don’t block critics – they could be your customers and are certainly your social media followers.
- Don’t get personal – remember, you are a spokesperson for the brand. Personal opinions are irrelevant and could prove damaging later.
- Maintain your brand voice – Watch your tone and try to maintain a level of continuity during the crisis.
Here’s a good example of a well-known brand tackling their PR disaster head on:
Shea Moisturiser attempted to expand their reach by featuring a diverse range of hair types in a series of television commercials. What they didn’t realise, however, is that most of the women featured were white. This seriously offended women of colour (WOC) – their core audience – who felt they had been totally neglected by the new campaign.
In response, Shea Moisturiser released a heartfelt apology via Instagram which began:
“Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up. Please know that our intention was not – and would never be – to disrespect our community, and as such, we are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intended to communicate.”
The apology went on to acknowledge customer feedback, stating:
“Thank you all, as always, for the honest and candid feedback. We hear you. We’re listening. We appreciate you. We count on you. And we’re always here for you. Thank you, #SheaFam, for being there for us, even when we make mistakes. Here’s to growing and building together…Nobody wants a PR crisis, however, effective use of social media can really soften the blow. Click To Tweet
Chat to the Contentworks team now for more information on social media management and PR solutions.
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